Today in the United States, there are more than 1.2 million people living with HIV, more than at any time in the three decade long history of the epidemic. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated one in five of these individuals does not know they are infected, and only 30 percent have their virus under control with ongoing treatment.
Although HIV can and does affect all people, certain communities and populations have been disproportionately affected. Black Americans and gay men, in particular, are two groups that have been particularly hard hit. This epidemic has touched many lives. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey finds that about half of Americans now know someone living with HIV or who has died from AIDS.
While there is not yet a cure, HIV is preventable – and early diagnosis and treatment can dramatically improve and extend the lives of who are infected. Treatment also plays a significant role in prevention. New research confirms that persons with HIV can significantly reduce the chances –by as much as 96%-of passing the virus to sexual partners when on antiretroviral medications.
By confronting the misconceptions and stigma that keep people from taking actions – such as talking openly, using protection, getting tested and adhering to treatment – it is possible to stem the spread of HIV and reduce the devastating effects of the disease.