HIV Treatment Works, But Access Falls Short
Advocacy Though life-saving treatments are available, we need to get better at increasing availability and making patients feel empowered to access care.
There is no cure for HIV, but we do have medications that allow HIV-positive individuals to live long and healthy lives. Treatment not only prevents us from dying of AIDS, it’s can act as a form of HIV prevention.
When someone living with HIV gets the care they need and achieves a consistently undetectable, suppressed viral load, the risk of transmitting the virus to a sexual partner is negligible. We do have the science needed to end the epidemic in this country. But it's easier said than done.
When people living with HIV find and stay in care, they live well. But nearly 70 percent of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV are not getting the care they need to achieve an undetectable viral load.
Why, you ask?
People living with HIV face many barriers to accessing and remaining in care. Concerns about taking HIV medications and being able to afford care are huge factors.
However, for many people, the biggest barriers to HIV care are stigma and discrimination. No one wants to be looked down on because of their HIV status. We need to create an environment where patients are not ashamed to seek care.
“When you commit yourself to knowing your HIV status, learning about HIV and talking about it with friends and family, you break down the effects of stigma.”
Doing your part
I know what it feels like to test HIV-positive. I hear you. You aren’t alone. My living for 30 years is proof you have a long life ahead of you.
If you’ve been diagnosed, show up for yourself by getting into treatment. Your provider can give you information on what to expect, help connect you with supportive services, and be your partner to keep you healthy. I encourage you to find and cultivate your personal support system through friends and family. I did it. You can do it.
If you are HIV negative, you still have an important role to play. When you commit yourself to knowing your HIV status, learning about HIV, and talking about it with friends and family you break down the effects of stigma. You make it that much easier for someone to get the care they need.
HIV treatment works, if we let it. Don’t let stigma stand in the way.