AID Atlanta, the largest non-profit HIV healthcare organization in the Southeast transforms lives with a continuum of care that provides access, linkage, and retention to HIV care. The Agency serves over 5,000 patients yearly. AID Atlanta’s major fundraiser – AIDS Walk Atlanta 5K & Run – now in its 25th year draws nearly 10 thousand and raises about $1 million annually. With an annual budget of $7.6 million and two locations in Midtown Atlanta and Newnan, GA, AID Atlanta provides services to over 50,000 individuals per year. Both locations provide services to newly diagnosed individuals who are then linked to primary health care and a comprehensive suite of programs that improve their health outcomes, provide basic needs and address mental health issues. AID Atlanta programs have been proven effective at improving health outcomes as measured by reduced viral loads and higher CD4 counts, the two key indicators of health for those who are HIV-positive.
It is important to note that although is highly virulent, transmission is greatly reduced when an HIV-infected person has a suppressed or undetectable viral load (<50 copies/ml) due to prolonged and successful anti-retroviral treatment. Hence, it can be said to be almost impossible (but still non-zero) for an HIV-infected person who has an undetectable viral load to transmit the virus, even during unprotected sexual intercourse, as there would be a negligible amount of HIV present in the seminal fluid, vaginal secretions or blood, for transmission to occur. This does not mean however, that prolonged anti-retroviral treatment will result in a suppressed viral load. An undetectable viral load, generally agreed as less than 50 copies per milliliter of blood, can only be proven by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Sheen said that he was taking an antiviral "cocktail" of HIV drugs -- four pills per day -- and that he had not missed a day of medication, even while struggling with depression and substance abuse. Huizenga backed up his comment, saying that Sheen was undergoing lab tests every three to four months that showed the virus was at low levels. Patients beginning ART sometimes deteriorate clinically, even though HIV levels in their blood are suppressed and their CD4 count increases, because of an immune reaction to subclinical opportunistic infections or to residual microbial antigens after successful treatment of opportunistic infections. IRIS usually occurs in the first months of treatment but is occasionally delayed. IRIS can complicate virtually any opportunistic infection and even tumors (eg, Kaposi sarcoma) but is usually self-limited or responds to brief regimens of corticosteroids. Jump up ^ Hallenberger S, Bosch V, Angliker H, Shaw E, Klenk HD, Garten W (November 26, 1992). "Inhibition of furin-mediated cleavage activation of HIV-1 glycoprotein gp160". Nature. 360 (6402): 358–61. Bibcode:1992Natur.360..358H. doi:10.1038/360358a0. PMID 1360148. There are theoretical reasons why patients identified with HIV around the time they are first infected (primary, acute infection) may benefit from the immediate initiation of potent antiviral therapy. Preliminary evidence suggests that unique aspects of the body's immune response to the virus may be preserved by this strategy. It is thought that treatment during the primary infection may be an opportunity to help the body's natural defense system to work against HIV. Thus, patients may gain improved control of their infection while on therapy and perhaps even after therapy is stopped. At one time, the hope was that if therapy was started very early in the course of the infection, HIV could be eradicated. Most evidence today, however, suggests that this is not the case, although research will certainly continue in the coming years in this area. In addition, recent data demonstrated that a subset of those starting ART within the first weeks of infection were able to stop therapy after many years and maintain good viral control off treatment. While this response does not occur in the majority of similarly treated patients, the observations are intriguing and an area of ongoing research. Regardless, at least for now it is premature to think that early treatment may result in a cure, although other benefits may still exist, including avoiding the substantial damage to the immune system that occurs during the first weeks of infection. In addition, these individuals have very high levels of virus in their blood and genital secretions, and early treatment might reduce their risk of transmitting HIV to others. There also is evidence that those who develop such symptoms during the early days of infection may be at greater risk of disease progression than those who become infected with minimal or no symptoms. Due to the absence of definitive data, guidelines vary, but since it is now recommended that all patients initiate therapy at the time of diagnosis it is generally recommended that patients with primary infection be offered early therapy. The CDC reported that, at the end of 2014, the most recent year for which national prevalence statistics are available, there were 955,081 adults and adolescents living with HIV infection in the United States, 521,002 of whom had infection classified as stage 3 (AIDS).  Risk of transmitting HIV is highest during vaginal or anal sex when a condom is not used or is used incorrectly. HIV transmission can also occur during oral sex, although transmission is less likely than during vaginal or anal sex. As the number of people living with HIV increases and more people become aware of their HIV status, prevention strategies that are targeted specifically toward HIV-infected people are becoming more important. Prevention work with people living with HIV focuses on: It is widely believed that HIV originated in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo around 1920 when HIV crossed species from chimpanzees to humans. Up until the 1980s, we do not know how many people were infected with HIV or developed AIDS. HIV was unknown and transmission was not accompanied by noticeable signs or symptoms. This period is sometimes called asymptomatic HIV infection or chronic HIV infection. During this phase, HIV is still active but reproduces at very low levels. People may not have any symptoms or get sick during this time. For people who aren’t taking medicine to treat HIV, this period can last a decade or longer, but some may progress through this phase faster. People who are taking medicine to treat HIV (ART) the right way, every day may be in this stage for several decades. It’s important to remember that people can still transmit HIV to others during this phase, although people who are on ART and stay virally suppressed (having a very low level of virus in their blood) are much less likely to transmit HIV than those who are not virally suppressed. At the end of this phase, a person’s viral load starts to go up and the CD4 cell count begins to go down. As this happens, the person may begin to have symptoms as the virus levels increase in the body, and the person moves into Stage 3. "If you're already losing weight, that means the immune system is usually fairly depleted," Dr. Malvestutto says. "This is the patient who has lost a lot of weight even if they continue to eat as much as possible. This is late presentation. We still see a lot of these." It has become less common, however, thanks to antiretroviral therapy. Most HIV-infected individuals progress to AIDS over a period of years. The incidence of AIDS increases progressively with time after infection. Homosexuals and hemophiliacs are two of the groups at highest risk in the West—homosexuals from sexually (more...) At present, there is no effective HIV vaccine to prevent HIV infection or slow the progression of AIDS in people who are already infected. However, treating people who have HIV infection reduces the risk of their transmitting the infection to other people. Guttmacher Institute. An overview of minors’ consent law. State Policies in Brief. New York (NY): GI; 2013. Available at: http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_OMCL.pdf. Retrieved November 4, 2013. The findings in this report are subject to at least four limitations. First, missing CD4 test results could be caused by either incomplete reporting or not having had a CD4 test done. However, 89.4% of persons with HIV infection diagnosed in 2015 had a first CD4 test after diagnosis reported by June 2017. Second, adjustment for missing risk factors might be inaccurate if factors associated with these were not accounted for in the model. Third, NHBS is not a nationally representative sample, so results are not generalizable to all cities or to all groups at high risk in participating cities. Finally, behavioral data are self-reported and subject to social desirability bias. The complications of HIV infection result mainly from a weakened immune system. The virus also infects the brain, causing degeneration, problems with thinking, or even dementia. This makes the person more vulnerable to certain types of conditions and infections (see Table 1). Treatment with ART can prevent, reverse, or mitigate the effects of HIV infection. Some patients on ART may be at risk for developing cholesterol or blood-sugar problems. 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