Treatment and education are powerful things. With an HIV/AIDS diagnosis, getting into and remaining in care is vital. Case managers at your local case management agency help you manage your virus and can assist you in identifying other resources to meet your needs. They can also help you find support groups to learn about life living with HIV/AIDS.
Have you been recently diagnosed with HIV? First off, take a deep breath. Because of scientific advances, with proper care and treatment you can live a long, healthy life. The key is to stay engaged with your medical provider and to take any medications as prescribed. OAC has compiled a list of resources and tips for the newly diagnosed.
The HIV Care Continuum
The HIV care continuum—sometimes also referred to as the HIV treatment cascade—is a model that outlines the sequential steps or stages of HIV medical care that people living with HIV go through from initial diagnosis to achieving the goal of viral suppression (a very low level of HIV in the body), and shows the proportion of individuals living with HIV who are engaged at each stage.
According to the latest CDC data, of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. in 2011, an estimated 86% were diagnosed. This means that 14% (approximately 1 in 7 people living with HIV) were unaware of their infection and therefore not accessing the care and treatment they need to stay healthy and reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus to their partners.
This underscores the importance of continued and intensified efforts to reach more people with testing and to make sure that those with the virus receive prompt, ongoing care and treatment to help them live longer, healthier lives and prevent the spread of HIV to others.
In addition, on February 23, 2015, CDC published a study in JAMA Internal Medicine providing the first U.S. estimates of the number of HIV transmissions from people engaged at the five stages of the HIV care continuum. The study shows that 91.5 percent of new HIV infections in 2009 were attributable to people with HIV who were not in medical care, including those who didn’t know they were infected. In comparison, less than six percent of new infections could be attributed to people with HIV who were in care and receiving antiretroviral therapy. In other words, according to this research, 9 in 10 new HIV infections in the United States could be prevented through early diagnosis and prompt, ongoing care and treatment. Read more about the study.
Treatment as Prevention
Two groundbreaking studies that forced us to completely rethink our notions of HIV prevention were recently published. In 2011 HPTN 052 demonstrated that when antiretroviral medications are taken regularly as prescribed and the amount of HIV in the body is reduced to undetectable levels, that individual becomes up to 96% less likely to transmit the virus. The PARTNER Study published in 2014 also shows similar results. Over the five year course of that study there were no HIV transmissions when the HIV+ partner was virally suppressed. These two studies provide us the knowledge that treatment for HIV is HIV prevention.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an HIV prevention strategy where HIV-negative individuals take anti-HIV medications before coming into contact with HIV to reduce their risk of becoming infected. The medications work to prevent HIV from establishing infection inside the body.
PrEP has been shown to reduce risk of HIV infection through sex for gay and bisexual men, transgender women, and heterosexual men and women, as well as among people who inject drugs. It does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy. It is not a cure for HIV.
Equitas Health has started offering PrEP to high-risk HIV negative adults. Learn more here.
Patient Drug Assistance Programs
- UHCAN Ohio Dental Access Now
- Dental Access Now! is a campaign of UHCAN Ohio working to reduce the dental care shortage in Ohio by expanding the dental care team. Our mission is to improve oral health for children and adults who currently can’t get the dental care they need.
- Safety Net Dental Clinics
- Safety Net Dental Care Programs provide clinical dental services and generally are operated by local health departments, community health centers, hospitals and other organizations that serve the community. Ohio has approximately 100 programs that provide basic dental services and 12 programs that offer preventive care. Safety Net Dental Care Programs offer sliding fee schedules, reduced fees or free care to clients who can’t afford to pay a private dentist
- Dental OPTIONS
- Dental OPTIONS (Ohio Partnership To Improve Oral health through access to Needed Services) is a program offered by the Ohio Department of Health in partnership with the Ohio Dental Association. The mission of OPTIONS is to assist Ohioans with special health care needs and/or financial barriers to obtain dental care. OPTIONS patients are primarily adults; many are the “working poor” or elderly living on a fixed income. Eligible patients are matched with volunteer OPTIONS dentists who have agreed to reduce fees for dental care.