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All the Pieces Now in Place in the Effort to End AIDS

PHOTO: With early detection and proper treatment, people with HIV can live long, independent lives and keep the infection from progressing into AIDS. Photo credit: Bordecia33/Flickr
PHOTO: With early detection and proper treatment, people with HIV can live long, independent lives and keep the infection from progressing into AIDS. Photo credit: Bordecia33/Flickr
June 27, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As National HIV Testing Day is recognized today (Friday) across Tennessee and the country, the vision of virtually ending AIDS is slowly moving toward reality.

Patrick Luther, chief program officer for Nashville Cares, points out that there are many new advancements and efforts in the areas of testing and treatment.

"For the first time in a very long time, we have all of the things in place that we could actually find everybody living with HIV, get them the care and support that they need so that they are only living with HIV, and never progress to the disease state called AIDS," explains Luther.

Luther says not only does early detection and treatment help people with HIV/AIDS live longer and more independent lives, it also helps dramatically reduce the chance that they'll pass the infection on to others.

"For people who are living with HIV, who are what we call 'optimally virally suppressed' - that means they're accessing their doctor and their care and they're taking their medicine and the medicine is working in their body - for those folks, we see almost zero transmission to an uninfected partner," he says.

In addition to the free screenings being offered today and year-round at sites across the state, a major event is set for Sat., June 28. Nearly 900 inmates in the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility will be offered free screenings, in the largest ever one-day HIV testing event to be held in a corrections setting.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, nearly 26,000 cases of HIV/AIDS have been reported in the state since 1982, and in every county in the state.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN