By Chris Ernest Nelson
April 7, 2023 (San Diego) -- It may not be your grandparent’s HIV. It may no longer be a death sentence, but it still poses a potent threat to public health. The good news is, there has been significant progress in the past 40 years in the treatment and management of this one-time deadly virus. When HIV/AIDS first appeared in our communities, it was most often a death sentence to those infected. But today people with HIV have effective medications that offer them satisfying and productive lives.
The number of new cases of HIV infection have fallen to half in the past decade. Those who are infected have learned how not to spread the virus, and they have access to life-saving medications. When people know the dangers, preventative measures, and availability of treatment, they can be better prepared to avoid infection, or to deal with a HIV diagnosis, and how to guide themselves or loved ones toward getting the treatment they need.
Today, 90 percent of HIV infections are among young men. There are roughly 15,000 local residents living with HIV, and another estimated 1400 people living with an undiagnosed infection. That is why testing is so important in reducing the spread of the virus. HIV testing is easy, it is available without cost, and your identity will remain confidential.
With or without a diagnosis, prevention can be as simple as using a condom. In addition, the use of “PrEP” (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a daily pill, is even more effective at lowering the risk of getting and spreading HIV from sex, and also from intravenous drug use. PrEP is readily available from a professional healthcare provider.