28 Apr So What is the HIV Care Continuum, Anyway?
According to the California Department of Public Health, nearly 12% of Californians are unaware that they are infected with HIV and roughly 30% of those that are diagnosed with HIV are not receiving the treatment they need. In addition, individuals diagnosed but not retained in medical care account for nearly twice the number of new infections.
Because individuals who are unaware they are infected by HIV may be unknowingly transmitting the virus in significant numbers, it’s important to encourage friends, family, and loved ones to get tested on a routine basis.
It’s been proven that by increasing testing and diagnosis, linking to care, and achieving viral suppression, we can dramatically decrease the number of persons with highly infectious levels of virus. By starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) soon after diagnosis it also preserves the health of people living with HIV and dramatically lowers their risk of transmitting the virus to others.
The HIV Care Continuum begins when an individual is diagnosed with HIV infection and carries them through the successful treatment of their infection with HIV medications.
The HIV Care Continuum includes:
- Being diagnosed with HIV infection
- Being linked to care (meaning they visited a heath care provider within three months after learning they were HIV positive)
- Being engaged or retained in care, (meaning they received medical care for HIV infection)
- Being prescribed antiretroviral therapy to control their HIV infection
- Being virally suppressed (meaning that their HIV viral load – the amount of HIV in the blood – is at a very low level or undetectable level)
By ensuring that everyone with HIV is aware of their infection and receiving the treatment they need, we can sharply reduce new HIV infections.
During 2015, Get Tested Coachella Valley Early Intervention Specialists linked to care 90.9% of patients testing HIV positive. We’ve made great progress, but we still have work to do.
Our campaign is highly committed not only to testing but also to ensuring that HIV-positive individuals are linked to and retained in care.