King County is among the first major metropolitan regions in the United States – and possibly the first – to reach a major milestone set by the World Health Organization in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
A broad partnership led by Public Health – Seattle & King County achieved what is known as the 90-90-90 goal: 90 percent of residents infected with HIV know their infection status, 90 percent are on HIV antiretroviral treatment, and 90 percent are virally suppressed.
King County reached the milestone three years ahead of schedule.
“King County continues to be a global leader in public health,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The progress we’ve made toward ending AIDS in our community is the result of decades of hard work by our staff, strong community partnerships, and state and federal funding. We will continue to work together to end this epidemic in our region once and for all.”
The partnerships make HIV testing easily accessible and routine – particularly for people at elevated risk for HIV – assures that people who are infected can rapidly access the medical care they need, and provides outreach and assistance to people who have fallen out of care.
Public Health worked with communities affected by HIV, healthcare and social service providers, elected leaders, academic partners, the Washington State Department of Health and people who are living with HIV to achieve the goal.
Viral suppression is a key goal of HIV treatment. When people with HIV are virally suppressed, they have no detectable virus in their blood. This prevents progression of their infection, strengthens their immune system and prevents them from transmitting HIV to others.
‘We have a lot to be proud of, but at the same time, now is not the time for complacency’
While Public Health officials celebrated the achievement, they say maintaining the progress King County has made will require vigilance and adequate funding.
“We have a lot to be proud of, but at the same time, now is not the time for complacency,” said Dr. Matthew Golden, Director of Public Health’s HIV/STD program. “Our success with HIV is incomplete and potentially reversible. Rates of other sexually transmitted diseases – like syphilis and gonorrhea – are rising, and funding has not kept pace with increases in syphilis, which, coupled with increases in and complexity of cases, has forced us to reduce the intensity of some of our outreach efforts.”
Golden added that further progress is achievable with adequate resources.
“Many of the infected people who are not getting the care they need have very hard lives,” he said. “Reaching them and making sure they receive life-saving treatment is going to be tough, but it is achievable.”
Photo credit: UNAIDS.org
Originally posted on February 9, 2017