In 2019, the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) launched and began implementation of a new initiative—Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE)—which aims to reduce new HIV infections in the United States by 75% by 2025—Just 4 years from now! And to reduce new HIV infections in the United States by 90% by 2030.
Phase I of the Ending the HIV Epidemic is focused on 48 counties, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, along with seven states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Carolina) with a substantial HIV burden in rural areas.
The initiative is focused on four primary strategies to achieve its goals. These strategies are: Diagnose, Treat, Prevent and Respond.
Diagnose– The first step is testing to determine one’s HIV status. Testing leads to a diagnosis. It is vitally important to diagnose HIV as early as possible so the person can be linked to appropriate medical care and services immediately.
Treatment: Today’s HIV medications (Antiretroviral Therapy or ART) are highly effective. ART is recommended for everyone who has HIV. When taken daily as prescribed, patients can become undetectable. This means the amount of (HIV) virus in the blood is so low, it cannot be measured by a test. This is significant because when the virus is Undetectable, it is Untransmittable.
Prevent—Preventing new HIV transmissions by using proven interventions—including PrEP and syringe services programs. PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis—Pre—means BEFORE. Exposure means exposure (or contact) and Prophylaxis is means prevention— PrEP is a medication taken (every day) before exposure to HIV virus to Prevent the transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. PrEP IS highly effective for preventing HIV. Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily.
Respond—Quickly Responding to potential HIV outbreaks to get needed prevention and treatment services to people who need them. Hopefully, there will never be an “outbreak” of HIV in our community, but we cannot assume that and must not let our guard down.
What does EHE mean for you? Well, everyone can play a role in Ending the HIV Epidemic. 1St Get Tested—Know your HIV status. CDC recommends HIV testing for everyone ages 13 to 64 during routine medical visits. If you are HIV positive, seek specialized medical care immediately! If you are HIV negative, discuss your risk factors with a health care professional. Inquire if PrEP is right for you. Northwest Health Services currently has 5 providers prescribing PrEP.
If you have general questions about PrEP or HIV services offered at Northwest Health, please feel free to contact our Prevention Specialist, Janet Miller, @ 816-261-9720. If you are interested HIV testing to be certain of your HIV status, please contact your Northwest Health Provider or contact Janet Miller to schedule an appointment for testing. We look forward to serving you!
Thank you for taking time to read this Blog,
Janet Miller, Prevention Specialist