World AIDS Day is another opportunity to commemorate how far we have come as a community, and also to remember how much there is left to accomplish toward the goal of achieving an AIDS Free Generation. Despite advances in medical research and care, this public health emergency continues today. Within the United States alone, there is an estimated 50,000 new HIV infections each year. For 30 years, God’s Love has helped people who are diagnosed to live better lives by providing nutritious meals, thereby increasing viral suppression. Last year alone, we supported clients living with HIV/AIDS by home delivering 270,000 meals to them.
Many are familiar with the treatment cascade, which tracks the progress toward viral suppression for individuals living with HIV. Food and nutrition services continues to be a critical intervention that serves as the gateway to care for people living with HIV and supports them through treatment. Nutrition is critical at every step. Of those living with HIV/AIDS, only 82% are diagnosed and only 66% are linked to care. Furthermore, only 37% of those living with HIV/AIDS are retained in medical care. Research shows that people with access to food and nutrition services are more likely to be diagnosed, and connected to and retained in medical care. Only 33% of those living with HIV/AIDS are prescribed antiretroviral therapy (ART) and only 25% are adherent enough to achieve suppression. Receipt of food and nutrition services has been demonstrated, in a statistically significant way, to increase adherence. And because undetectable viral loads prevent transmission 96% of the time, FNS is key to prevention.
We have seen many changes in the trajectory of the disease over the years, and we are now in new territory, as many of those living with HIV/AIDS are seniors. Regardless of what the future brings, God’s Love will continue to be there for clients, through every phase of HIV, a central tenant of the mission and vision of God’s Love.
To further commemorate this day of remembrance and demonstrate the history of our support for people living with HIV, God’s Love was featured on Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s show, Everyday Health. Please click this link to watch the wonderful video – I’m sure you will enjoy it.
World AIDS Day is incredibly significant for our history, mission and community, and I know that you join us in celebrating the members of the God’s Love community who are living with HIV/AIDS and in observing a moment of silence for those who are no longer with us.