Dec. 1 marks 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day
Contact: Jodie Snyder
PHOENIX -- (Nov. 28, 2017) – Friday Dec. 1 marks World AIDS Day and a local expert says 2018 may bring some significant improvements in how this life-threatening condition is treated and viewed.
More than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, relying on a “cocktail’’ of a large number of drugs taken daily to help them maintain their health.
That could change next early next year as an injection that could be administered every month or even longer could be offered in doctor’s offices and clinics throughout the country.
“It would be a significant improvement for people taking the drugs. It would allow more access and make it easier for people to be compliant with their drug regime. This really could be a game-changer,’’ said Randy S. Gelow, II, MD, family-medicine physician at Banner Health Center on Greenway and who has an expertise in LGBTQ medicine, including the treatment of HIV.
About 20 percent of his practice are patients who are HIV-positive. He treats men and women who are HIV positive as well people of varying ages and lengths of exposure.
In Arizona, more than 17,000 people are HIV-positive, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, which notes the number of HIV-positive residents has been slowly increasing over the last two decades partially due to better medical treatments.
Gelow believes another significant development in 2018 is the growing Undetectable=Untransmittable campaign, which is getting the word out about research that shows people who are HIV positive but whose treatment has caused their viral load -- the amount of HIV in the blood -- to be undetectable poses no risk of transmitting the virus.
In October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention joined international health organizations in supporting that research which shows the critical importance of the proper treatment to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS.
While there is good news, there are still reasons to be vigilant, Gelow says. One in seven HIV-positive Americans don’t realize that they have the virus. Being tested for HIV should just be part of your routine health care, he said
The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. “It’s just like undergoing a blood test or a urine test to be sure you are healthy,’’ Gelow said.
About Banner Health
Headquartered in Arizona, Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns and operates 27 acute-care hospitals, Banner Health Network, Banner – University Medicine, Banner Medical Group, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services, including family clinics, home care and hospice services, pharmacies and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in seven states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.BannerHealth.com.