Three decades after the start of a global epidemic, roughly 35 million people are living with HIV worldwide, and more than a million in the United States. New Hampshire maintains one of the lowest rates of infection in the country, but stigma and misinformation about the virus persist locally.
As an AIDS outreach worker with Dartmouth Hitchcock in Nashua, Jean Adie works against those forces.
She acts out a typical interaction:
“Jeez, you know, you’re having unprotected sex. When was the last time you were tested?” she’ll ask.
June 27 is National HIV Testing Day and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services is leading a statewide effort to help residents get tested.
Seventeen New Hampshire testing sites are offering a rapid-response oral HIV test. The screening requires only a saliva swab and produces results in 20 minutes. If the test comes back positive, then the next step is a blood test.
Millions of people around the world are living with HIV, thanks to drug regimens that suppress the virus. Now there's a new push to eliminate HIV from patients' bodies altogether. That would be a true cure.
We're not there yet. But a report in Science Translational Medicine is an encouraging signpost that scientists may be headed in the right direction.
The international conference on aids and sexually transmitted disease in Africa, or “ICASA” is convening this week in Ethiopia. Over the past few decades, activists and educators worldwide have endeavored to dispel rumors and misinformation about aids and people with aids. Today, more HIV positive people can disclose their status without shame and stigma. But there’s a downside to those advances. Relaxed attitudes toward HIV may be contributing to a trend of complacency toward the disease, even here in the United States.