Springfield, Ill. — Nov. 29, 2017 — Due to treatment as prevention advancements, getting to zero HIV cases in Illinois is now an achievable goal.
To encourage people living with HIV to follow treatment as prevention care regimens, Illinois HIV Care Connect introduced new text and video content on its website for World AIDS Day ( Dec. 1 ). People living with HIV are encouraged to review the new content and take the brief Treatment as Prevention Quiz.
The content and quiz help people living with HIV to understand how HIV treatment prevents them from transmitting HIV to others.
Individuals achieving viral suppression have virtually no chance of transmitting HIV
HIV-positive individuals who regularly take their anti-HIV medications and achieve viral suppression, or a low level of HIV in the blood, have virtually zero chance of transmitting HIV to others, according to the results of two recent medical studies — HPTN 052 and the PARTNER study. Similarly, pregnant or breast-feeding women who achieve viral suppression have virtually no chance of passing HIV onto their babies.
A Washington Post story published on Nov. 24 explored this new reality — that people who have achieved viral suppression cannot transmit the virus that causes AIDS. The influential British medical journal the Lancet published an editorial this month endorsing the idea of U = U — undetectable = untransmittable. More than 500 organizations in 67 countries have endorsed similar statements.
However, until people living with HIV achieve viral suppression by gradually reducing the amount of HIV in the blood by taking anti-HIV medications, practicing safe sex remains important to prevent HIV transmission.
Many people with HIV have not achieved viral suppression and can still transmit the virus
Public health officials believe that promoting the preventive benefits of HIV treatment can increase the percentage of people living with HIV who have achieved viral suppression. Right now, only 30 percent of the HIV-positive population have reached viral suppression, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that's because only 37 percent of people living with HIV are successfully staying in care by making medical appointments twice a year and regularly taking their medications.
Illinois HIV Care Connect is promoting the Treatment as Prevention Quiz using text, graphics and videos on the Illinois HIV Care Connect website ( hivcareconnect.com ) and on its Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram social media platforms.
Funded by the Illinois Department of Public Health and managed by the Illinois Public Health Association, Illinois HIV Care Connect is a statewide network providing medical case management, health care, and support services to people living with HIV. Seven lead agencies coordinate the services provided to eight Illinois regions through the program. About 45,000 Illinois residents are estimated to be HIV-positive. Serving people living with HIV in all of Illinois' 102 counties, Illinois HIV Care Connect lead agency offices are located in Rockford, Peoria, Springfield, Belleville, Murphysboro, Champaign and Chicago.