In 1996, the introduction of the “AIDS cocktail”, a triple combination therapy with AZT, another drug of its class, and a protese inhibitor, gave patients and doctors new hope. “Now you take one pill a day with three drugs in it; it stops the virus from multiplying, your body heals, and you have a normal life expectancy,” said Dr. Herchline.
Despite remarkable advances in drug therapy and testing services, 1 in 8 HIV-positive people are HIV-positive but don’t know it. If current rates continue, 1 in 6 gay and bisexual men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime, with men of color disproportionately impacted. “Thanks to our integrated patient-centered care model, 92% of our HIV positive patients are engaged in an anti-retroviral drug regimen, compared to 37% nationally. Our viral suppression rate, meaning those individuals who are HIV-positive and living with such low levels of HIV in their body they are not able to transmit the disease, is 87% compared to 30% nationally,” said Bill Hardy, President & CEO of Equitas Health.
While there has been tremendous progress, an HIV-positive diagnosis remains a challenging diagnosis for many. “Today, treatment still requires indefinite, sometimes costly, daily medication and potential side effects. In the near future, there may be alternative treatments available and someday, hopefully, a cure. In the meantime, Equitas Health remains committed to providing a welcoming healthcare home for those at-risk or infected with HIV/AIDS,” said Dr. Herchline.