Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
Posted by Elizabeth Koke , April 23, 2017
The END AIDS NY 2020 Community Coalition released a consensus statement on viral load suppression, which affirms the message of Undetectable=Untransmittable in conjunction with Prevention Access Campaign’s U=U initiative. To celebrate, the Coalition, along with the New York City Health Department hosted a rally & dance party on Sunday, April 23rd, DJ’d by Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, Acting Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Disease Control at the New York City Health Department. Check out the photo album from the U=U Dance Party to End HIV Stigma, and read the consensus statement below!
New York State Consensus Statement on HIV Viral Suppression by the END AIDS NY 2020 Community Coalition:
The New York State End AIDS 2020 Community Coalition joins national and international HIV experts to affirm the now conclusive scientific evidence that people with HIV who are on antiretroviral treatment (ART) that suppresses the virus to an “undetectable” level not only successfully protect their own health but cannot transmit HIV to others.* In short, undetectable status equals untransmittable status, and public education and messaging about HIV should be updated to promote and reflect this reality.
The incontrovertible evidence that HIV cannot be sexually transmitted if one is durably virally suppressed is something that we all celebrate as a key milestone in ending AIDS as an epidemic:
- Fear of HIV transmission drives HIV stigma, discrimination, and HIV criminalization laws, so by amplifying the message that Undetectable = Untransmittable, we can dismantle this fear.
- Knowledge that a person who is virally suppressed cannot transmit the virus affirms the ability of people with HIV to live healthy, sex-positive lives, including being able to conceive children without alternative insemination practices if they choose and to engage in sex without fear of putting partners at risk of infection.
- This clear evidence provides even more reason for every person to know his or her HIV status, and for every person with HIV to start and maintain treatment without delay—to protect their own health and the health of their community.
The evidence of ART’s highly effective preventative benefits provides a new opportunity and urgency for advocacy to realize the recommendations in our NYS State plan for Ending the Epidemic (ETE) by increasing the number and percentage of New Yorkers able to achieve and sustain viral suppression—including universal access to HIV care, supporting retention in care and ART adherence, and providing the support services necessary for all people with HIV to benefit from treatment. Because far too many New Yorkers with HIV still face demonstrated barriers to sustained viral suppression, including housing and food insecurity, lack of transportation, behavioral health issues, stigma, discrimination and criminalization, the State ETE plan includes concrete steps to combat and overcome social drivers of HIV health inequities.
Sustained HIV viral suppression requires that physicians consult with each person with HIV being treated to select the appropriate treatment for optimal effectiveness and adherence. HIV viral suppression should then be monitored to assure both personal health and public health benefits. We of course acknowledge clinical barriers to achieving viral load suppression including previous antiretroviral treatment that may have resulted in resistance. Some people may choose not to be treated or may not be ready to start treatment.
The End AIDS New York 2020 Community Coalition enthusiastically supports the Undetectable = Untransmittable campaign and calls for immediate steps to translate the supporting evidence into new actions to end AIDS:
- The Undetectable = Untransmittable news must be shared widely with people with HIV and disseminated by medical providers, educators, and public health officials.
- Government must reexamine, in light of the evidence, all laws and regulations that criminalize HIV and discourage HIV-testing.
- We call for review of the literature, further research, and dissemination of information on the impact of viral suppression on other forms of HIV transmission: Viral suppression greatly reduces the possibility of transmission through breast-feeding, but guidelines for mothers vary depending on the countries in which they live rather than giving women the facts and allowing them to make what they deem to be the best choice for themselves and their infants. There has been little or no research on the impact of viral suppression related to injection drug use, which is the most efficient route of transmission and is a leading cause of HIV infection, particularly where harm reduction resources are not available. Our goal should always be to empower people with HIV to make decisions based on facts and not prejudice.
- Finally, we must work together and across systems to make sure that every person with HIV has the opportunity, means, and support to achieve durable viral suppression.
By joining in this statement, the Community Coalition affirms the related Consensus Statement and supports the Policy Statement of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD).
* The term “undetectable” is used here synonymously with the term “virally suppressed,” meaning a consistent viral load of 200 copies/ml or less.
The End AIDS NY 2020 Community Coalition
Adolescent AIDS Program, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center
African Services Committee
AIDS Center for Queens County (ACQC)
Albany Damien Center
Albany Medical Center
Ali Forney Center
Alliance for Positive Change
American Run for the End of AIDS, Inc. (AREA)
Apicha Community Health Center
Argus Community, Inc.
Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center
Bronx Parent Housing Network, Inc.
Brooklyn Community Pride Center
Brownsville Multiservice Center
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
Catholic Charities Care Coordination Services
Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies (CHIBPS), New York University
Central New York HIV Care Network
Coalition for Homeless Youth
Community Health Action of Staten Island
Correctional Association of New York
Diaspora Community Services
Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities, Inc.
End AIDS Now
Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA)
GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis)
Grand Street Settlement
Harlem Health Promotion
Harm Reduction Coalition
Hispanic Health Network
In Our Own Voices, Inc.
Latino Commission on AIDS
Legal Action Center
Morris Heights Health Center
Mount Sinai Institute for Advanced Medicine
National Action Network, NYC
National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA)
National Working Positive Coalition
New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth
New York Harm Reduction Educators (NYHRE)
New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG)
Oasis, Latino LGBTS Wellness Center
Planned Parenthood of New York City
Positive Health Project
Praxis Housing Initiatives, Inc.
Pride for Youth, Long Island Crisis Center
Rev. Moonhawk River Stone, M.S., LMHC, RiverStone Consulting
Ryan/Chelsea-Clinton Community Health Center
Southern Tier AIDS Program
St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction
The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM)
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, New York City
The Sharing Community
Touch-Together Our Unity Can Heal, Inc. (Hudson Valley)
Treatment Action Group (TAG)
Trillium Health / Rochester
United Health Services, Binghamton
VOCAL New York
Wyckoff Heights Medical CTR-PHM
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