Statement from HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) Chair Kathleen Squires, MD
June 3, 2011 - Thirty years ago this month, the first alarming reports of a new and deadly infection were published
by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since then, we have seen many advances in our knowledge of what we now know to be HIV/AIDS,
how to treat it, and how to prevent its spread. Today, we know that if patients are diagnosed early and receive effective medical care and
medication, HIV disease is highly treatable as opposed to being a death sentence.
Despite this progress, our advances in studying this virus remain far ahead of our gains in beating this disease on
the ground. There are far too many people who need HIV treatment who do not have access to it, and many are diagnosed too late to benefit
from treatment. About half of those living HIV in the United States who know they are infected and need medication are not receiving
it regularly. A third of people diagnosed with HIV are not receiving ongoing medical care. More than 8,000 low-income and uninsured
people across the country are on waiting lists for medication through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Globally, only 35 percent
of people in developing countries who need it are receiving treatment according to the World Health Organization's treatment
guidelines, which still call for initiating treatment later than the U.S. standard.
Last month, the results of a major study from the National Institutes of Health convincingly showed that early
HIV diagnosis, followed by appropriate care and treatment, can save lives and reduce the spread of the disease. Researchers found that
HIV-infected patients treated with antiretroviral drugs while their immune systems were still healthy were 96 percent less likely to
pass the infection to their uninfected partners.
We must do more, as a country and as part of the world community, to ensure that scientific advances like these
are put into widespread practice. Adequate federal funding for HIV prevention, testing, care, and research is critical as demand for HIV
care continues to grow. More than 50,000 new cases occur annually in the United States, and there were 2.6 million new infections
around the world in 2009. HIV clinics across the country that provide care to the uninsured have seen patient increases of
nearly 60 percent during the past several years. Many clinics are taking drastic steps, from cutting hours to reducing
laboratory monitoring, just to keep their doors open.
As HIV medical professionals, it is heartening to see how much has been learned about this disease during the past 30 years. The continuing
challenge is translating this science into practice so we can finally end this pandemic through earlier diagnosis of HIV infection and
ensuring that everyone has access to the HIV care and treatment they need.
The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) is the professional home for more than 3,800 physicians, scientists, and other health
care professionals dedicated to the field of HIV/AIDS. Nested within the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), HIVMA promotes
quality in HIV care and advocates policies that ensure a comprehensive and humane response to the AIDS pandemic informed by science
and social justice. For more information, visit www.hivma.org.
Contact Name: John Heys
Contact E-mail: email@example.com
Contact Phone: 703-299-0412
Reproduced with permission - "HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) "
HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA)