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How to Fight the AIDS Epidemic with Testing, PrEP, and More

October 20, 2021
AIDS Awareness Ribbon

Since the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic has quickly made its way onto the global stage, and countries everywhere have worked to suppress the virus and prevent further transmission. At Richmond University Medical Center, our Palliative Care Program provides those who have been diagnosed with AIDS with supportive medical services. Here, we discuss how to fight the AIDS epidemic with testing, PrEP, and more.

What is AIDS?

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the late stage of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Once HIV progresses into the final stage, those carrying the disease contain a high viral load, making them very contagious. When CD4 cells (T cells) drop below a certain threshold or the body is prone to infection, patients may be examined for AIDS. Normally, these infections would be fought off by the immune system, but because HIV/AIDS drastically reduces the integrity of the immune system, patients are at a greater risk for illnesses they would otherwise be able to combat.

When HIV/AIDS was first discovered, many who were infected were unaware of their status, which is why it spread so rapidly in the 1980s. Without proper treatment, those carrying the disease typically lived for only three years. Thanks to the medical advancements that have been made in the last few decades, the rate of survival in the United States has increased exponentially.

The Effectiveness of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis

Designed for those looking to protect themselves and the ones they love from AIDS, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a prescription medication that reduces the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS by 99%. It is taken orally, and the baseline for its effectiveness varies depending on the type of activity you are engaged in. If you report behaviors or activities that put you at a higher risk for contracting AIDS, you may want to speak with your primary care physician about the possibility of beginning PrEP. Most insurance policies cover the prescription. However, there are additional programs that help cover the entire cost or allow individuals to acquire it at a discounted rate if they do not have medical insurance.

Government Programs in New York

In 2014, the State of New York established a three-point plan that was designed to combat the AIDS epidemic. Ultimately, the goal was to reduce the presence of AIDS within the state by doing the following:

  1. Identify and provide healthcare to those with HIV who have yet to be diagnosed
  2. Provide these individuals with continued access to appropriate healthcare to suppress HIV and prevent transmission
  3. Provide easy access to PrEP to those at a higher risk to prevent further infection and suppress the virus

If HIV/AIDS is undetectable in a person that means it is also untransmittable. This concept is represented by the phrase Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U), and this theory has been proven in multiple medical journals. There are other states with comparable programs, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has similar programs designed to assist those with AIDS around the world.

Visit Richmond University Medical Center Today

AIDS is a serious virus, but there are a few things we can do to fight this epidemic. Governments the world over have begun to implement programs that make prescription medication like PrEP affordable and easy to access. When working cohesively, these two factors can reduce the spread of AIDS, improving survivability for those infected and reducing the risk of transmission. For more information, contact Richmond University Medical Center today.