Public health agencies around the world recognize World AIDS Day on Thursday, Dec. 1 to show support for people living with disease, and to remember those who have passed. The special day was established in 1988 to create an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV.
More than 17,000 Arizonans are living with HIV. In 2015, 730 new HIV cases were diagnosed statewide, and 191 people living with HIV passed away. Our HIV Prevention and Care Programs have implemented several initiatives to drastically reduce the number of new HIV infections and HIV-related deaths over the next five years.
The Office of HIV Prevention is working to increase the number of clinical settings offering routine opt-out HIV testing, so more Arizonans receive HIV testing as part of their regular health care. Award-winning media campaigns are educating the public on the availability of fast, free HIV testing and new HIV prevention options, such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. An innovative project to offer free home HIV tests kits by mail will be piloted in January 2017.
The Ryan White Part B Care and Services Program provides high quality medical and support services to eligible Arizonans living with HIV. The program works closely with community partners to quickly link people to care, connect clients to life-saving medications, and help positive people become virally suppressed so that they can live long, healthy lives. Community partnerships have focused on making eligibility easier for clients, using plain language in communications, and consistently taking small steps to improve HIV systems of care.
In the next five years, we’d like to have 90 percent of Arizonans living with HIV aware of their status, 90 percent taking HIV medications, and 90 percent virally suppressed (no detectable HIV in their bodies). To learn more about HIV prevention and care in Arizona, visit hivaz.org or the recently released Spanish-language vihaz.org.