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OPINION

Health and Wellness: Good news about HIV trends

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Public Health
Perry Chief

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) recently provided updated information on the prevalence of HIV here in Iowa. They reported we had a consistent decrease in the number of new HIV cases every year since 2016. According to IDPH, this is the first time since 1998 that the rate of new infections has sustained a downward trend.

Iowa has a continuum of care for HIV patients that contributes to this trend of decreased cases. First, more health care professionals and Iowans in general are aware of the value of testing. Secondly, client-centered patient care and case management make it more likely that anyone testing positive for HIV is offered affordable, accessible treatment. Treatment options may include transportation to appointments, and assistance with housing and food. Addressing these social determinants of health increases the success of the whole treatment process.

Appropriate medications for people with HIV suppresses the virus in their blood; studies show that people cannot transmit HIV sexually when they are virally suppressed. According to IDPH, 2,839 Iowans were diagnosed with HIV on or before December 31, 2018. Of those still living in Iowa one year later, 86 percent were still in HIV care, and 81 percent were virally suppressed. (https://idph.iowa.gov/hivstdhep/hiv)

Dedicated work by professionals and consistent funding are two reasons for this success.