First observed in 1988, 2021 marks the 43rd Annual World AIDS day. The theme this year is “Ending the HIV Epidemic: Equitable Access, Everyone’s Voice.” The purpose of this observance is to highlight AIDS Awareness, educate about prevention and treatment and honor those affected and those who have passed from HIV.
There are nearly 38 million people around the globe affected with HIV *and the pandemic continues despite the incredible advancements in prevention and treatment. It is still an “incurable virus” that, if left unchallenged, will spread and cause illness and death.
Remarkably, since the introduction of the first single tablet regimen – Atripla, in 2006, and the undeniable fact that if an affected person with HIV who is on treatment and has an undetectable HIV Viral Load – it is impossible to transmit the infection, the number of new cases and the rate of complications and death have drastically decreased.
Today, our understanding of HIV and the importance of rapid start of treatment, improving access to care and medication, employing Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and striving toward the goal of “Ending the Epidemic” have given us hope that one day soon, we will cure this devastating condition.
Urban Health Plan is proud to have continued our robust HIV testing program and provided HIV primary care to over 300 patients this year, more than this same time last year. Through the pandemic we continue to sustain our comprehensive model providing HIV primary care and supportive services to our patients with an objective that they achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to Urban Health Plan, our patients and our communities. As an organization we quickly pivoted to providing telehealth in addition to in person care to ensure patients maintained continuity of HIV care, both primary care and supportive services.
On December 1, let us reflect as a community to recognize HIV as a pandemic that must end and that we are committed to educating, supporting, improving care and working daily to one day having a world without AIDS.
Richard Torres, MD, MPH
Urban Health Plan, Inc.