As World AIDS Day is observed globally today, the question is more important than ever: Have you been tested?
That’s because most people infected with HIV do not have the disease under control, according to a new Center for Disease Control report released this week. Only 28 percent of those that have HIV are virally suppressed, the report, titled Vital Signs: HIV Prevention Through Care and Treatment reveals.
The reason: 1 in 5 people with HIV don’t know they are infected, and of those who do, only 51 percent receive ongoing medical treatment that with advancements in antiretroviral therapy, can lead to longer, healthier lives. The report did not cite reasons why 20 percent are ignorant of their condition or why only half are in medical care.
According to the CDC’s website, Latinos lag in testing due to cultural reasons, immigration status and lack of access to health insurance. Considering that Latinos make up 20 percent of new HIV cases— three times the rate of whites—annually, and that Latinas specifically are four times more likely than white women to contract the disease, we should stand up and take notice. Get informed at the Latino Commission on AIDS’ website, latinoaids.org.
To combat the problem nationwide, the CDC is, for the first time, requiring that CDC-funded local and state health departments maintain programs to link HIV-infected patients to care and provide counseling on reducing risky behavior.
“While we have known that viral suppression can be achieved with proper HIV treatment and care, today’s new Vital Signs data highlight the challenges our country faces in keeping HIV-positive Americans in the care they need to control the virus,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden. “By improving testing, linkage to care, and treatment services, we can help people living with HIV feel better and live longer, and can reduce the spread of HIV dramatically. This is not just an individual responsibility, but a responsibility for families, partners, communities and health care providers.”