How Do I Link My Patients to HIV Treatment and Care?
- Connect patients with HIV to medical care, including antiretroviral therapy (ART), and other services.
Connecting your patients diagnosed with HIV to medical care, including ART and other services, is essential.
The goal of HIV treatment is to achieve viral suppression. For someone who is virally suppressed, the amount of HIV in their body is very low or undetectable. This is important for people with HIV to stay healthy, live longer, and reduce their chances of transmitting HIV to others. People with HIV who take HIV medicines as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load (or stay virally suppressed) won’t transmit HIV to a sexual partner who is HIV negative.1 This is sometimes referred to as Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U).
To achieve viral suppression, a patient must be diagnosed, linked to care, receive care, and have ongoing contact with a health care provider for HIV treatment.2,3
- Diagnosed. The patient receives an HIV test and is found to have HIV.
- Linked to care. The patient visits a health care provider within 1 month after learning they have HIV.
- Received care. The patient receives medical care for HIV.
- Retained in care. The patient has ongoing contact with a health care provider for HIV treatment.
- Viral suppression. The patient’s viral load is so low that it is undetectable (<200 copies/mL).
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Evidence of HIV treatment and viral suppression in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV. Accessed June 27, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/art/evidence-of-hiv-treatment.html
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data: United States and 6 dependent areas, 2019. HIV Surveillance Report: Supplemental Report. 2021;26(2). https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/library/reports/surveillance/cdc-hiv-surveillance-report-vol-26-no-2.pdf
3 DiNenno EA, Prejean J, Irwin K, et al. Recommendations for HIV screening of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men – United States, 2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017;66(31):830-832. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6631a3.htm