World AIDS Day in NJ: Events, trends & services

Events are taking place today throughout New Jersey. Here is a list of event locations. There are three recent developments regarding this illness. NJ continues to offer many free services, although they are under threat from the Trump administration.

Trump’s proposed budget would cut $2.2 billion from global health spendingSix members from President Trump’s HIV/AIDS Advisory Board resigned. Trump’s ‘devastating’ cuts to HIV research willl cost lives, AIDS Society warns. It will fall upon Governor Murphy to take steps to lessen the impact of Trump’s disregard toward health issues in general, and funding for various HIV services and treatments.


PrEP: Pre-exposure prophylaxis  

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains, this medicine taken daily by people at very high risk for HIV lowers their chances of getting infected. Your risk of getting HIV from sex can be even lower if you combine PrEP with condoms and other prevention methods. Many medical providers and those potentially at risk of acquiring HIV are not aware of the extent to which this successful treatment prevents HIV transmission. In NJ private doctors, hospitals and clinics offer this treatment. Christian Mendez-Baez, PrEP coordinator at NJCRI where he manages 143 cases, points out that for it to work people have to continue under antiretroviral treatment, take PrEP daily, and test their viral load periodically. He adds that insurance should cover it, plus, the pharmaceutical company offers a plan for some who cannot afford it. Here is the NJCRI clinic in Newark. This medication can also be taken as an emergency measure (IMPACTT) by anyone within 72 hours of potential HIV exposure.

“U=U” Undetectable HIV is Untransmittable HIV 

As the Prevention Access Campaign explains, there is now evidence-based confirmation that the risk of HIV transmission from a person living with HIV who is on Antiretroviral Therapy and has achieved an undetectable viral load in their blood for at least 6 months is negligible to non-existent. Previously people with HIV/AIDS were cautioned not to have sex with others, and particularly not without a condom.

STD Sexually transmitted diseases 

As the fear of HIV/AIDS recedes health officials in NJ and nation-wide are reporting another record increase in infections from three sexually transmitted diseases.More than 2 million new cases nationally of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported in the last year — the most ever.These diseases are treatable with antibiotics. Sexually active people should consider getting tested regularly. A New Jersey 101.5 review of state Health Department data finds that STD cases of these illnesses were recorded in nearly every municipality in New Jersey. Mendez-Baez says the highest rates are in Essex and Hudson counties.

Fortunately, the number of new cases in 2016 in NJ have declined to 865 from a high of 6,507 in 1992, and the number of deaths in 2016 to 20 from a high 4,163 in 1992. The first data point suggest that there has been progress but more education and prevention is needed, particularly for African-Americans and Hispanics. The second data point suggests that through early detection and intervention with today’s powerful medicines people are living and thriving with HIV. Mendez-Baez adds, “we need to keep talking about HIV particularly with the younger generation and work to reduce the stigma.”

Because excellent treatments are now available getting tested if you are at risk is as important as ever. The rapid HIV testing available today allows one to wait at the testing site and receive results in less than an hour. A list of NJ sites: here.

Some NJ services

  • NJ offers free medications for individuals with HIV/AIDS through the AIDS Drug Distribution Program (ADDP). Read the qualifications to enroll here.
  • The HIV Home Care Program enables eligible individuals living with HIV/AIDS to remain in the community, or return to the community, as an alternative to extended hospital stays. Read the qualifications to join here.
  • The New Jersey Health Insurance Continuation Program (HICP) allows you to keep your health insurance when you can no longer work or when you can only work part time by paying your monthly payment premiums. Read the qualifications here.

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