by Peter Pointers
This article shared 1953 times since Wed Jun 22, 2011
June marks the 30th anniversary of the CDC's initial reporting of the disease that would eventually be known as AIDS. In 30 years, advances in prevention and treatment have led to dramatic improvements in the length and quality of life for those infected with HIV. But we are far from overcoming the disease completely.
The good news: According to UNAIDS, prevention efforts have resulted in a more than two-thirds decrease in the number of new HIV infections in the US since the height of the epidemic. In the late '80s, a person newly diagnosed with AIDS could only expect to live a year; but today, antiretroviral drugs can extend the life of a newly HIV-infected person by more than 50 years. An ongoing NIH study showed antiretroviral treatment of infected individuals also helps reduce HIV transmission to uninfected partners by up to 96%. So, while there is no cure, preventioncombined with early detection and treatmentshas the potential of drastically reducing the number of new infections even further.
The bad news: HIV drugs are expensive. At $18,000 per year, and with several states tightening eligibility for AIDS drug-assistance programs, many Americans lack treatment. Additionally, prevention strategies are often ignored by those most at risk. While new infection rates drop for most of the population, rates for gay men are increasing, making them 44 times more likely to become infected than straight men, according to CDC estimates.
What can you do?
¢ Know your status. Frequent testing encourages non-infected people to stay that way and allows infected individuals to seek early treatment, benefitting them and their partners.
¢ Reduce your risk. Adopting safer sex practices and other risk reduction strategies is the best way to prevent transmission.
Peter Pointers is an online, gay health educator and is assisted by a group of qualified health specialists who work as a team to answer your health questions. Check out Peter's Question/Answer forum at www.lifelube.org/experts.php for more pointers and to ask your own questions.
This article shared 1953 times since Wed Jun 22, 2011
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