Not enough Americans are getting the proper testing, treatment, and prevention for HIV according to the CDC. In its Vital Signs report released on December 3, 2019, the CDC reported that about 154,000 people with HIV are unaware of their status. Only two-thirds who those aware of their status are on effective treatment.
In regards to Pre-Exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV, it is estimated that 1.2 million Americans could benefit from PrEP; however, only 18 percent, or 219,700, of those are actually on PrEP. The CDC noted that the coverage was “especially low among young people, African Americans, and Latinos who could benefit from PrEP.”
The report estimated new HIV infections have remained stable from 2013 to 2017, at about 38,000 per year.
The CDC lists the four main strategies for combatting the HIV epidemic in the United States:
- Diagnose all people with HIV as early as possible, with a target of diagnosing at least 95% of HIV infections.
- Treat people with HIV rapidly and effectively to reach sustained viral suppression, with a target of at least 95% of people with diagnosed HIV reaching viral suppression.
- Prevent new HIV transmissions by using proven interventions, including PrEP and syringe services programs (SSPs). For PrEP, the target is for at least 50% of those who could benefit from it to receive a prescription.
- Respond quickly to potential HIV outbreaks to get needed prevention and treatment services to people who need them.
What can you do? Get tested for HIV (at least once in your life if you are low risk) or more often if you are a higher risk. If you are at risk, talk to your medical provider about going on PrEP. If you are HIV positive, seek treatment options and make sure to take your medication.
If you are uninsured, there are many programs that can help cover your HIV meds and treatment as well as PrEP. For example, check out the Ryan White Program and Gilead Advancing Access in addition to Fulton County’s PrEP Clinic.
Jeremiah Robinson is a licensed and certified Physician Assistant at T. Douglas Gurley MD in Atlanta, GA.