New York, New York - Gay Men's Health Crisis ( GMHC ) celebrates and welcomes the release of the World Health Organization's ( W.H.O. ) Early Release Guidelines on when to start antiretroviral therapy and on pre-exposure prophylaxis ( PrEP ) for HIV. These guidelines recommend initiating antiretroviral therapy ( ART ) in adults living with HIV, regardless of CD4 cell count, and to offer PrEP as a prevention option to all people at substantial risk of acquiring HIV.
GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie:
"The W.H.O. guidelines confirm what GMHC has known and seen firsthand — providing early antiretroviral treatment to those infected by HIV and using new prophylactic tools like PrEP that can prevent HIV's spread will save innumerable lives, and will help us begin to end the AIDS epidemic worldwide.
The global health community must now make sure there is sufficient funding to implement these guidelines across the globe. No country, no population, and no community should be denied these critical advances in treating and preventing HIV and AIDS.
Here in New York, we are heartened that Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to end the epidemic by 2020 already calls for the aggressive approach recommended today by the W.H.O.
As the world's first AIDS service organization, we have seen firsthand at GMHC's David Geffen testing center in New York City the impact of providing early antiretroviral treatment to those infected by HIV because it can help suppress the virus and saves lives.
When someone tests positive for HIV at GMHC's testing center, we are able to get them a same-day appointment to see an HIV-specialist through our unique partnership with Mt. Sinai Hospital. Following their doctor's appointments, we accompany our clients to get their prescriptions immediately filled out at GMHC's on-site Duane Reade pharmacy, and provide them with case management and other support services to help them maintain their doctor's appointments moving forward, get treated early, and stay connected to the care they need to stay healthy.
Our comprehensive service delivery model is how we're able to achieve the 90% viral suppression rate for clients who test positive at GMHC's testing center, over twice the viral suppression rate statewide, and over 3.5 times the viral suppression rate nationwide.
While there is much to celebrate in today's announcement, we have a long and hard road ahead to turn these guidelines into everyday practice. We must sort out not only funding and logistic barriers, but also the significant challenge of spreading accurate and timely information. We have seen awareness of PrEP edging up, but many are still unaware or simply don't have accurate information on how PrEP can help protect against HIV infections. Today, we can celebrate hard fought advances in both treating and preventing HIV and AIDS, but tomorrow we must get to work on how to make these guidelines a reality."
About Gay Men's Health Crisis
Gay Men's Health Crisis ( GMHC ) is the nation's leading provider of HIV and AIDS care, prevention services and advocacy, serving nearly 9,000 people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in New York City, the epidemic's largest U.S. epicenter. As the world's first HIV and AIDS service organization, GMHC is an expert in providing services that every person affected by the epidemic deserves. GMHC is on the front lines caring for people who are both HIV negative and positive, including: testing, nutrition, legal, mental health and education services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state and federal level with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic in New York State by 2020. Most recently, GMHC and other HIV and AIDS organizations successfully persuaded the federal government to recommend widespread use of PrEP, a new daily treatment that is over 90% effective in preventing HIV infection. For more information, visit www.gmhc.org .