Every day, more than 150 people in the United States become infected with HIV. That adds up to 56,000 people a year. More than 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV but one in five people with HIV don’t know they are infected.
About half of the nation’s HIV population is African-American – yet African-Americans have a 15 percent greater chance of dying from HIV than White Americans.
That is not the case at Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest nonprofit health care provider, where we have treated more than 60,000 people since the HIV epidemic emerged 30 years ago, and reduced disparities among our current HIV population of 20,000 people by working to meet or exceed the objectives of the U.S. National HIV / AIDS Strategy.
At Kaiser Permanente there are no disparities among our Black and Latino HIV-positive patients for both mortality and medication rates, compared to a 15 percent higher rate in the United States for mortality and for medication.
At Kaiser Permanente, 89 percent of our HIV-positive patients are in HIV-specific care within 90 days, compared to 50 percent in the United States within one year.
We want to help other health care providers and community health centers increase the number of HIV-infected people getting effective treatment so we are sharing these best practices and tools for private health care providers and community health clinics to replicate: quality improvement programs that measure gaps in care; testing, prevention and treatment guidelines; how to set up multi-disciplinary care team models that emphasize the “medical home” so HIV specialists, care managers, clinical pharmacists and providers work together; and education for both the provider and patient.
The National HIV / AIDS Strategy calls for increased testing so that all Americans can know their HIV status, increased access to culturally sensitive prevention messages, community-targeted prevention and condom and clean needle access. NHAS also calls for improving access to quality HIV care because HIV medications not only improve individuals’ health and extend their life expectancy, they also reduce their risk of transmitting HIV to others. A recent scientific study found that effectively treating HIV patients with antiretroviral medications reduces HIV transmission by 96 percent. The study, known as HPTN 052, found that treating people with antiretroviral drugs before they are symptomatic can reduce the amount of virus in the blood sufficiently to reduce the risk of sexual transmission of HIV to an uninfected partner.