RALEIGH -- Despite advances in prevention and treatment programs, HIV and AIDS continue to be a significant public health concern across the United States. North Carolina in particular continues to have high rates of new transmissions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s HIV/AIDS office research demonstrates that public health programs should have a five-pronged approach to addressing HIV and AIDS, including testing, condom distribution, care retention, behavioral strategies, and PrEP availability.
PReP is a pre-exposure medication, using the brand name Truvada, that decreases the likelihood of contracting HIV in case of contact through sexual intercourse. Hydeia Broadbent, an HIV activist, points to this article discussing the purpose of PrEP and its role in lowering transmission rates.
Despite the availability of PrEP, people in some communities have proven less likely to take it. The North Carolina AIDS Action Network, started as a way to raise money to ensure people with HIV and AIDS had the money for medications, advocates for education and healthcare availability for people with HIV/AIDS throughout the state. The group shared an article recently through Facebook discussing the lowered rates of taking PrEP among African American men.
This issue is particularly important in North Carolina where African American men have new transmission rates more than five times their white counterparts. HIV/AIDS transmissions in the African American community has not slowed considerably as has been true of other racial and ethnic groups although poverty also is a key indicator of transmission likelihood. That race/class intersection matters in a state without expanded Medicaid and other fail-safes for people to get the care they need.
Glen Cameron, a North Carolina man living with HIV who speaks about his life story, discussed in a moving speech about the difficulties of living life without health insurance. In this speech, posted by the North Carolina AIDS Action Network, Campbell discusses trying to find money to cover healthcare costs and applying for hardship funds as obstacles for him.
“Playing politics as usual is playing fast and loose with people’s lives,” Cameron said in his speech.
There are some ways that the state’s Division of Public Health is working to address this crisis. One is to employ “state bridge counselors” who “actively look for HIV-positive people who have fallen out-of-care” and help them to find medical providers. A plan also is in place to begin having public health departments in various counties throughout the state offering PrEP available for low- or no-cost for people in significant financial need.
These government and nonprofit programs work together to address this public health crisis throughout the state although numbers are not yet out for the past two years.
I'm a recovering journalist now living a Renaissance life working as a writer & political strategist. I also am the mom to 2 children, one of whom has autonomic dysfunction & Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder, I write about politics and healthcare in North Carolina.