International HIV organisations play a key role in advocating for strong targets and indicators by which to measure progress. For example, those focussing on equal access to HIV services for all, call for global indicators to properly include key affected populations. International organisations such as UNAIDS and their partners advocate for governments to work towards global targets within their national strategic plans. This is vital for monitoring progress towards targets and holding governments to account.
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I think that there should be something in writing that requires a positive person to state their status before being sexually involved with anyone. Even though some of us already state our status, not enough positive people are comfortable doing so. This may be because of the stigma or fear of rejection. Regardless of the reason I feel there should be something implemented stating that you are required to state that you are HIV positive. Let your potential sexual partner decide if they want to move forward and take precautions to avoid getting infected.
There is so much work being done to limit/eliminate the spread of HIV and I think community organizers, health care organizations, nonprofits, and health departments are all working on truly innovative and groundbreaking things. For starters, I think every state should have an HIV Stops with Me Campaign! It is wonderful that our website can be accessed by anyone, anywhere but I think regional differences make it important to have other groups represented; especially those that are reflective of the communities served in different parts of the U.S. There should be spokesmodels who speak common languages here in the U.S. (Mandarin, Cantonese, French, Haitian Creole, Spanish, Russian, Swahili, Tagalog for starters) and additional racial and ethnic groups including First Nations/Native Americans. I think people want to see themselves in the work we do and role models they can identify with, and maybe I am not the right person to best identify with a Lakota person with HIV or a recent Tanzanian immigrant. I do not know all cultural nuances or the regional histories that may make me more relatable. I can research and ask questions and try to have a level of cultural competency, but HIV is so personal and so stigmatizing for different communities, that I think we need a nation of representatives who can speak directly to the experience of those they represent.
PEP and PrEP should be implemented to stop the spread of HIV. Throughout this year with speaking to adults in Faith Based Organizations ( Churches ) they are completely clueless that the drug Truvada is available to the public. Also with dating or attempting to get to know someone and having a conversation about PrEP never happens because of fear, stigma, or being uninformed about the availability of the drugs to decrease the risk. Not so much with me because I am Undetectable. However, being sexually active with someone that is infected and does not know their status, not in treatment, etc places the individual more at risk. Having an open dialogue with individuals about PEP and PrEP is a major discussion that is needed in the community to decrease the infection rates of HIV.
I would have to say more communication and truth. The reason I choose those two words are because they represent the two things that the world is missing. When I was young I wish I had been communicated to with truth about what was going on with HIV and life. To know now the way I learned is for me to communicate the truth to my community and LGBT community.
Thinking outside of the box I think one way to start limiting the spread of HIV would be to reinstate comprehensive health education programs in schools starting at the middle school level. I also think religious institutions could open their doors to their communities by providing confidential testing events and health education forums. In my opinion, health care providers could also work towards limiting the spread of HIV by offering HIV testing as part of a doctor’s visit, much like checking blood pressure, to begin to normalize conversations about HIV and reduce the stigma associated with a HIV diagnosis.
What I feel should be implemented is a bit more on what happens if you are not taking your medications. Some of the things your body can go through if you are not taking care of suppressing the virus. For example in my case the stomach eruption because my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) was out of control and I had no idea my viral load was over the top which is what triggered my digestive system to get out of balance. Maybe kind of shedding a bit more light on these experiences may help.
I think that having the new generation learn about or rather see the effects of the AIDS epidemic when it first started would open a lot of people’s eyes. For them to see so many people lost to this virus, the way they were treated as second class citizens if that. To see how the struggle was real and people were being diagnosed with pretty much a death sentence.I believe that if our younger generations saw this they would see how atrocious our standard of living was. Today’s generation is mainly privy to seeing the 4th-5th generation of medication which works great as long as you are adherent to your meds. They have not had to see what others sacrificed for us to be able to have stable health care. Not to mention housing,entitlements,etc. I would have to say educate, educate, educate, knowledge is power. Through this campaign I am demonstrating how HIV stops with me, I am living proof that treatment works. To go even further I am undetectable so I cannot transmit the virus to my partner and vice versa.
I think the reason this disease is so powerful is because of the ignorance and the stigma that surrounds it. I believe that an HIV health class should be made by a committee of HIV specialists and HIV positive individuals. This class should be taught in every High School across America and a student must be required to pass this class in order to graduate. This class could also encompass Hepatitis C and drug abuse. It should be taught to 7th and 8th graders. I believe this is a good way to stop the ignorance and stigma before it starts. I also believe this is important because when I was in high school we covered HIV/AIDS in one day and I barely remember it. I did not learn anything useful and I did not retain any of the information. If I had been well-armed and had the knowledge I might not be infected today. With this class I believe we could reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS dramatically.
To be more effective in limiting the spread of HIV I think that our children need more exposure to the subject about HIV and sex. Our society is so quick to say that middle school kids are too young to understand. I feel that if we were more open about sex not just within our homes but within our schools that our kids would have more time to get a better understanding about sex and HIV; instead of waiting for them to become of High school age. The high school in the city where I live promotes abstinence which is not working at all. My county has the highest rate of teen pregnancy within all the counties in this area. This city is also good for ignoring HIV and acting as if there is no problem. I always think about the people that are suffering in silence because they have nowhere to turn to and they have to travel to the next city to get help. I personally am a great example of this. I travel to the next city for my HIV and primary care because of the lack of care and concern towards people like me and our well-being in my city. The only way to stop it is to be loud when we talk about it so that everyone gets the information.
I believe that the topic of HIV and treatment should be part of school curriculum. It should be taught with a positive undertone verses the negative stigma that I grew up with. Replace the negative images and language with images of people thriving with HIV, telling their stories in hope to show that it is not a death sentence while at the same time it is not something that you would want to have to live with either.
There are currently some incentivized programs, for individuals to become undetectable and remain that way. Maybe, these programs can be more widespread to cover all individuals who are HIV positive. There have been some great adherence outcomes through incentives. From a cost perspective. If I am undetectable, I will not transmit to anyone. Thus, there will be less HIV positive people to spend money on treating.
Also, more incentives for testing and if someone tests HIV positive incentives to treat. African Americans and Latinos need specific outreach and incentivization to get on medication, due to the fact they are the population who are not getting treated/non-adherent and therefore potentially spreading HIV.
We need to be prepared to address the naysayers who are going to say we are “rewarding people for bad behavior”. From a cost perspective analysis it is less expensive to reward than have the negative outcome of another infection and therefore enabling us to reach the objective of Ending The AIDS Epidemic in New York State by 2020.
Every Junior High, and High School counselor should have updated information, and facts on how to prevent the spread of HIV in our school system. The spread of HIV in our society today is no laughing matter. Every community should take some responsibility in protecting itself and others from HIV and other STDs in our school system, and community. Counselors should be equipped with informational facts such as true or false sheets, prevention methods, testing, treatment, and HIV testing kits if there is no HIV testing provider on site. This would greatly help reduce the spread of HIV in our school system and in our community.
It is simple, but not done enough in current healthcare practices. I think that as a part of the yearly physical, HIV and STI testing should be done. We know that there are over one million people living with the virus unknowingly. Many of these people could potentially be captured in the data and linked to care if it was part of their routine physical. HIV testing should also be part of any emergency room visit where symptoms could be tied to HIV. I went to the doctor back in 2008, with a case of pneumonia which was treated as such. However, it was more likely that I had contracted HIV and was actually dealing with the acute stages when the virus first attacks the body. Had they done an HIV test, I would have known that I was infected and could have potentially started treatment years prior to me actually testing positive. There are many intersections of healthcare where HIV could be one of the standard tests done, especially when a blood draw occurs. HIV affects Black and Brown communities at much higher rates, so it is important that we are being tested for it whenever we are experiencing symptoms that could be caused by it.
There should be more discussions about some or even all sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in general. Often times this subject is considered taboo but it should not be like this. Conversations around HIV should be the norm, and conversations around sexuality in general should be natural for all women, men, old, young and in every color. If we start the discussions when we are young maybe we can eliminate HIV.