The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative in 2019. The initiative aims to reduce new HIV infections in the U.S. by 90% by 2030. EHE leverages critical scientific advances in HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and outbreak response by coordinating the highly successful programs, resources, and infrastructure of many HHS agencies and offices and providing a targeted infusion of new resources and support to the jurisdictions most heavily affected.
EHE is a national and local jurisdiction plan to treat individuals currently living with an HIV diagnosis but also to prevent individuals for receiving a future diagnosis through testing and early diagnosis, treating individuals with antiretroviral (ART) medications to increase viral suppression to reach undetectable status, prevention of new cases of HIV through educational campaigns and barrier (condom) distribution and increasing medical prophylaxis such as PrEP ( Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis), and response to clusters of populations that may be most susceptible to HIV.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. If HIV is not treated, it can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). There is currently no effective cure. Once people get HIV, they have it for life. But with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. People with HIV who get effective HIV treatment can live long, healthy lives and protect their partners. It is possible to have HIV and never develop AIDS if a person adheres to the proper regimen of medication and the viral load is suppressed.
However, AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is the most severe stage of HIV (Stage 3). People with AIDS have badly damaged immune systems. They get an increasing number of severe illnesses, called opportunistic infections (OIs). People receive an AIDS diagnosis when they develop certain OIs, or their CD4 cell count drops below 200 cells per milliliter of blood.
One can prevent HIV by the following:Not sharing needles or medical injection equipment. Using condoms during sexual activity. Receiving routine HIV screenings to know your status. Having conversations about your and your partner’s HIV status. Receiving an HIV test if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Taking PrEP. Using universal precautions to avoid needle sticks and contaminated objects if you are a healthcare professional
The CDC says that PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is medicine people at risk for HIV take to prevent getting HIV from sex or injection drug use.
Though daily use of PrEP does prevent HIV infection, it does not prevent against other STI like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Herpes or Syphilis. Individuals are encouraged to use PrEP and condoms to prevent HIV and other STIs.
PrEP is available at the FL Department of Health in Pinellas County in multiple locations: (Midtown Center, St Petersburg Center. Some Pinellas EHE Community Partners can provide PrEP services, such as METRO Inclusive Health)
PrEP is for anyone who is at risk of contracting HIV.
PrEP is for:
Men, Women, Transgender individuals, Non-Binary individuals, LGBTQ+, Heterosexuals, Individuals with multiple sexual partners, Individuals the used Intravenous drugs