Almost 30 years after the start of the HIV epidemic, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program has helped transform the lives of HIV-positive people.
Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic in 1981, the lives of people with HIV in the United States have transformed. Once a deadly disease, HIV is now a chronic condition, allowing people to experience a nearly normal lifespan, thanks in large part to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) and expanded access to HIV care and treatment services.
Today, people with HIV who take medication daily as prescribed and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner. This is why it is so important to incorporate evidence-based models of HIV prevention and testing, as well as to provide effective interventions to link people with HIV to care, keep them in care, and support their adherence to HIV medication and treatment.
From day one
Early in the HIV epidemic, HRSA and the RWHAP led on the frontlines: addressing the critical needs of people with HIV to reduce stigma, breaking down barriers to access care, and training providers to deliver culturally appropriate HIV treatment services. For 30 years, HRSA’s RWHAP has provided a comprehensive system of HIV medical care, medication, and essential support services to low-income people with HIV who are among the hardest to reach. Today, the program serves more than half a million people with diagnosed HIV in the United States. In 2018, 87% of RWHAP clients who received HIV medical care were virally suppressed, meaning HIV cannot be detected in their blood.
As we celebrated World AIDS Day on December 1, the tools are now available to improve health outcomes for people with HIV and ultimately end the HIV epidemic. Working alongside many U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies, HRSA’s RWHAP has a critical role in the Administration’s Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE) initiative, which aims to reduce new HIV infections in the United States by 90% in 2030. Through this federal collaboration, HHS is working to diagnose, treat, prevent, and respond to HIV to achieve the goals of the EHE. HRSA’s RWHAP remains committed to addressing health disparities in underserved communities and to ensuring access to and retention in quality, integrated care and treatment services for all people with HIV.