Veterans Administration (VA) is on a mission to end the HIV epidemic. Together with other federal agencies, community partners, and local facility staff, we’re working on the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America whole of society initiative. This initiative, in response to the President’s pledge to end HIV, aims to reduce new HIV infections in the U.S. by 75% by 2025 and by 90% by 2030. We can do this, but we need your help.
With World AIDS Day approaching, it is the perfect time to reflect on how far we have come and what we still need to do to end HIV once and for all. This year’s theme, “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Resilience and Impact" is inspiring for VA. Our Veterans know a lot about resilience, and we are inspired by their strength. We need that strength to keep up our efforts to end HIV. VA is currently working on three core steps: Test, Prevent, Treat. These three steps are key to making an impact on the HIV epidemic. Check out this new video we created on these three steps and how you can get involved:
Test: Everyone should be tested for HIV at least once and, for those with higher risk, at least annually. Veterans can ask their VA provider about testing at their next appointment. Veterans who test positive should be linked to care immediately. Veterans who are aware of their positive HIV status are less likely to transmit the virus to others. If a Veteran tests negative, VA has tools to help them stay negative.
Prevent: We have some great tools to prevent HIV, including Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP. PrEP is a daily pill that is very effective at preventing HIV and it is available at VA. Other ways to prevent HIV include practicing safer sex and not sharing injection drug equipment. Veterans can ask their VA providers about condoms, PrEP, or syringe services programs nearby.
Treat: Treatments for HIV are incredibly effective. Treatments help people with HIV suppress the virus (reduce the amount of HIV virus in their blood). This not only helps keep them healthy, it also helps prevent the virus for being passed to others. Veterans who are living with HIV and use VA for their care have access to the latest treatments. We are committed to helping them get and stay on treatment.
So this World AIDS Day, we’re asking our Veterans for their help in getting tested, practicing prevention, and, if you are living with HIV, getting and staying on treatment. That’s it: Test, Prevent, Treat. With these three things, we can end HIV but only if we do it together. Learn more: www.HIV.va.gov