World AIDS Day falls on Dec. 1 this year, the 33rd time the globe has paused to reflect on an epidemic that’s killed tens of millions of people — and still claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year.
But even though 2020 has been an overwhelming barrage of COVID-19 pandemic news, there’s some news from the federal HIV/AIDS Bureau that gives us a reason to celebrate.
Dr. Laura Cheever is a physician and associate administrator for the bureau at the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). That entity administers HIV support grants to localities under a program commonly called Ryan White.
Cheever joined WABE’s “All Things Considered” host Jim Burress for a discussion on the success those Ryan White dollars have made in “viral suppression” rates. Viral suppression is when effective HIV treatment keeps levels inside the body so low that tests can’t measure them.
Officials with HRSA say HIV has transformed from a deadly disease to a manageable, chronic condition. That is, if there’s access to high-quality health care and medications.
And a 2020 HRSA report shows the highest rates on record of HIV viral suppression. The report also finds that people diagnosed with HIV who take medication daily have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus.
Lily Oppenheimer contributed to this report.