The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

December 10, 2013

6 ways health-care reform can help end America's AIDS epidemic

With politicians, public health experts and epidemiologists announcing that the United States is at the beginning of ending the AIDS epidemic and that we will soon usher in an AIDS-free generation of youths, each World AIDS Day, on Dec. 1, takes on increasingly special significance, especially for African-Americans.

Because the nation's HIV/AIDS epidemic is unfolding disproportionately in black communities, black America has the most to gain by ending it. Getting there requires that more HIV-positive people are diagnosed (currently, almost 20 percent of black people with HIV don't know it) and then linked to care, retained in care and prescribed HIV-fighting medications (called anti-retrovirals). Ultimately, they also must get their virus under control (viral suppression), a sequence called the HIV care continuum, or HIV treatment cascade.

Although African-Americans are more likely to get tested than whites, once they do test positive, many don't get the health care they need. And a mere 21 percent of black people who have been diagnosed with HIV have their virus under control, fewer than whites and Latinos. That is critical, because people whose virus is suppressed both protect their own immune systems and are 96 percent less likely to transmit HIV to others, meaning that treatment is also prevention.

Each step along the HIV care continuum involves going to the doctor. But while black people make up 13 percent of the population, 19 percent of us don't have health insurance, and scores of Americans — of all backgrounds — have health insurance policies that don't offer prescription coverage or aren't worth the paper they're printed on. This remains a serious problem, considering that HIV meds can easily cost upward of $12,000 per year.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) addresses many of these problems, bringing us closer to ending America's HIV/AIDS epidemic. Here's how:

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Opinion & Letters to the Editor
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    RALEIGH – A busy slate of judicial elections this November got even busier recently when Judge John Martin of the N.C. Court of Appeals announced his retirement.
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  • Patrick Gannon Fake news or sign of some more trouble?

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  • Patrick Gannon Some light for Dems in their time of darkness

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  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Maintaining hope

    Gardeners are facing challenges with the weather this year. It seemed like we were getting great conditions in April and May. The weather was warm and we were getting some good rains. Then sometime in June the rain stopped. It got so dry that I didn’t have to cut the grass. While I enjoyed the break, the garden was not happy at all. I was having to water quite a bit to keep the vegetable garden alive and growing.

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  • Jason O. Boyd I may be a bit behind the times, but at least I can find ‘America’

    I seem to be reading about and dealing with technology a lot lately.
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  • Brent Laurenz Meeting out in open helps negotiations move ahead

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