New report looks at ways to reduce HIV epidemic

The Bipartisan Policy Center has released a new report examining the challenges and opportunities for ending the HIV epidemic.

“The epidemic is no longer sort of a coastal epidemic,” said Anand Parekh, M.D., Chief Medical Adviser for the Bipartisan Policy Center. “It really affects all states in the United States. In fact, 50% of all new infections every year occur in the South and 20% of new infections in the Midwest.”

Nevertheless, for those infected, with the proper medication regimen, HIV is no longer a death sentence, but there is still a stigma with infection.

“Two-thirds of new infections in the United States are in the population of men who have sex with men, particularly young men of color, there is a stigma there,” said Parekh. “Then, there’s a stigma of the opioid epidemic. Many of the HIV outbreaks that we’re seeing in rural communities stem from injection drug use related to the opioid epidemic.”

Drugs to keep the virus from spreading still are very routine-dependent.

“There has been some improvements in sometimes combining different medications into one pill to increase adherence,” said Parekh. “This is a chronic condition, just like diabetes, high blood pressure, and chronic conditions rely on that daily adherence and regular pattern as well as frequent checkups to
ensure that the virus is suppressed.”

Improvements in housing, employment and transportation in addition to health insurance can all create routines for those infected that allow them to be more consistent in all of their life, which will help them be more consistent in taking their medication and therefore reducing the chances of transmission.