As shown by the significant and increasing reports of cities and countries achieving the 90-90-90 targets and beyond for the majority, HIV is now a treatable infection. In the past few years, there have been advances not only in the efficacy of medication but as importantly, improvements in their toxicity profile and ease of administration, leading to greater adherence overall resulting in positive long term results.
However, large groups of individuals either still remain undiagnosed, or are diagnosed but do not seek care. Indeed, undiagnosed individuals form the greatest gap in our 90-90-90 targets. For there to be further improvements in our cascades of care, it is essential that these groups are targeted.
But why does this happen?
Undoubtedly, this issue has much to do with fear. Particularly the fear of testing, receiving a positive diagnosis and attending an HIV center, and the subsequent discrimination which either does or is perceived to occur. Such fears result in unnecessary morbidity and mortality, particularly due to late diagnosis, along with an increased risk of transmission within the population.
And of course, HIV is not the only stigmatizing infection. For centuries stigma has been practiced against those with or thought to be the source of infections. Think back to leprosy and syphilis. Think of more recent times with Ebola, Zika, and COVID-19 infections. We appear to have not learned that this is unnecessary and harmful.
But change is coming! There are success stories!
Come and hear how you can challenge and be part of the solution to stigma and discrimination. Listen to stories of both success and failure from our experienced faculty. The triumph of HIV treatment can only truly begin when we can succeed in improving testing and linkage to care. We are all beholden to take part in this challenge.