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HIV Care Saves Lives

Viral Suppression is Key

November 2014

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In 2011, more than 1.2 million people were living with HIV in the US.

	Icon depicting 4 out of 10 people.4 in 10

Only 4 in 10 people living with HIV were in HIV medical care.

	Icon depicting 3 out of 10 ten people.3 in 10

Only 3 in 10 people living with HIV achieved viral suppression.

Viral suppression is key for people living with HIV. Viral suppression means having very low levels of HIV in the body, even though the virus is still there. Achieving viral suppression by taking HIV medicines allows people living with HIV to have nearly normal lifespans and greatly reduces their chances of transmitting the virus. While we have made progress in HIV prevention and care, only 30% of all people living with HIV have achieved viral suppression. If they are in HIV medical care, however, 76% of people achieve viral suppression. Getting and keeping people in HIV medical care saves lives.

Doctors, nurses, and health care systems can:

  • Test patients for HIV as a regular part of medical care.
  • Counsel patients who do not have HIV on how to prevent it.
  • Make sure people living with HIV are prescribed and take HIV medicines, stay in care and get supportive services such as nutrition, housing, or mental health services.
  • Work with health departments to get and keep people in HIV medical care.
 

Problem

Not enough people living with HIV have achieved viral suppression.

	Viral suppression is the goal of HIV medical care. There are four key steps. Click to view larger image and read text description.

View larger image and read text description.

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What Can Be Done

Federal government is

  • Investing in HIV prevention, HIV testing, and HIV medical care and support services.
  • Expanding and integrating the use of public health and clinical data to get and keep people living with HIV in HIV medical care.
  • Developing guidelines and supporting training for health care providers on HIV testing, care, treatment, and prevention.
  • Expanding access to quality health care for people with HIV, and all Americans, through the Affordable Care Act.

Doctors, nurses, and health care systems can

  • Test patients for HIV as a regular part of medical care.
  • Counsel patients who do not have HIV on how to prevent it.
  • Make sure people living with HIV are prescribed and take HIV medicines, stay in care and get supportive services such as nutrition, housing, or mental health services.
  • Work with health departments to get and keep people in HIV medical care.

Health departments and communitybased organizations can

  • Expand HIV testing services to get people into HIV medical care quickly once they are diagnosed.
  • Expand the use of public health and clinical data to improve HIV medical care and increase the number of people who achieve viral suppression.

Everyone can

  • Learn how to prevent HIV and take steps to protect themselves and their partners.
  • Know their HIV status by getting tested.
  • Get tested once a year or even more often if they are at high risk of getting HIV.

People living with HIV can

  • Get into HIV medical care as soon as possible and stay in care.
  • Take HIV medicines every day to achieve viral suppression, which helps them stay healthy, live longer, and reduce their risk of transmitting the virus to others.
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Science Behind the Issue

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