About AIDS

Prevention Focus Shifting to HIV-Positive People

"HIV Stops With Me" should be the life motto of all HIV-infected people. It's the message of a San Francisco ad campaign urging HIVers to take responsibility for not transmitting their virus to others.

Traditional prevention approaches informed HIV-negative people about protecting themselves. However, this method has lost much of its original effectiveness, and today the U.S. still experiences about 40,000 new HIV infections annually.

This shift in focus -- to also include positive people -- is the CDC's acknowledgement that a change in approach is needed. Recent studies show that other changes are also necessary. Perhaps a third of infected people don't know their HIV status, so testing and appropriate counseling must be promoted. Regular medical care can help someone maintain safer behaviors, and a low virus level in the body can reduce the chance of transmission, so adequate access to competent health care is critical. We need expanded, frank outreach efforts targeting at-risk populations to help individuals make -- and maintain -- better choices about behaviors, from sexual abstinence to drug needle cleaning.

All this is possible, but it will take a commitment of money and political will. Congress has just reconvened, and Texas Legislature committees will start meeting soon. Contact your various representatives and urge them to favorably consider measures that enhance testing, health care, and prevention. Continuing the HIV epidemic is optional. It can be stopped, if we want.

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