Letter from the Executive Director.
Author: Simmons, Paul
Pub Date: 03/22/2011
Publication: Name: Research Initiative/Treatment Action! Publisher: The Center for AIDS: Hope & Remembrance Project Audience: General; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 The Center for AIDS: Hope & Remembrance Project ISSN: 1520-8745
Issue: Date: Spring, 2011 Source Volume: 16 Source Issue: 1
Accession Number: 263250024
Full Text: Dear reader,

Thirty years ago this month, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued its first report on what would come to be known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. (The CDC described the cases of five young men, all active homosexuals" who were suffering from a rare pneumonia.) Since then, advances in the treatment of HIV/AIDS have marked one of the most striking achievements of contemporary medicine. In only three decades, a diagnosis of HIV infection has gone from being a near-universal death sentence to the start of a chronic but survivable illness.

At The Center for AIDS, we tell clients that HIV disease is life altering but not life ending. But this observation comes with caveats. It applies to those who 1) get diagnosed, 2) enter care, 3) stay in care, and 4) adhere to therapy and suppress their viral load to below the limits of detection. Of the 1.1 million HIV-infected people in the United States, a distressingly low number of them complete all four steps. In fact, according to one study, fewer than 1 in 5 has an undetectable viral load.

In this issue of RITA/, editor Mark Mascolini explores what are now arguably the biggest HIV problems in the United States: late testing--21% of people infected with the virus don't know it; late care--20% of people infected with the virus know it but aren't in care; and early drop out--19% of people infected with the virus were in care but left.

In other words, roughly 60% of people who need care for HIV disease either don't know it or aren't getting care. This is a problem not just for these individuals, many of whom will go on to suffer needlessly, but also for the public health. Every year, the United States sees 56,000 new HIV infections; since treatment dramatically reduces transmission of the virus, the number of new infections could be cut sharply if more people living with the virus knew their serostatus and received treatment for their infection.

With this issue of RITA!, we hope to advance discussion about ways of achieving those goals.

Until there's a cure,

Paul Simmons, BSN, RN, ACRN

Executive Director
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