As World AIDS Day comes to a close, the fight for a brighter future continues for people living with, and at risk for, HIV/AIDS. Overall, much progress has been made since the first World AIDS Day in 1988. Life expectancy for people with HIV improved from 39 years in 1996 to 70 years in 2011. If you look deeper, you will see that many communities most vulnerable to HIV have been left behind. In the US, people living in poverty, Black individuals, and residents southern states experience disproportionately high rates of infection. Studies show that low access to preventative medications and treatments as well as greater stigma associated with the virus are largely responsible for these inequities. Just one example is the low access to PrEP, an extremely effective preventative medication, among Black Americans and people with low-incomes.
Many advocates and experts working to end the HIV epidemic have called for healthcare reforms to increase access to primary care providers as well as medications and testing kits. Meanwhile congress has threatened drastic cuts to HIV-related funding, which risks widening the socioeconomic gaps in HIV/AIDS outcomes even further.