The Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) works towards raising awareness on HIV medications & treatments, HIV prevention and ultimately an HIV vaccine. Two important short term goals of ONAP include:
- The approval of the first rapid home HIV test kit that allows people to get results within 20 minutes. As of July 2012, the first over-the-counter home-use rapid HIV test kit is now available, allowing people to easily test themselves in under 40 minutes.
- Making smarter investments by intensifying HIV prevention in the communities where HIV is most heavily concentrated.
- Increasing access to HIV screening and medical care, including through implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
In the United States since 2000, HIV infection rates have remained stable at approximately 50,000 new infections each year. But if you look at where the new infections are occurring, it’s in the population of young men who have sex with other men. It’s particularly alarming for the black population of gay and bisexual men. The disease has hit the black population harder: in the poorest parts of Washington D.C., approximately 5% of black men and over 12% of black women have HIV. Many don’t know it, and that’s part of what spreads the disease.
ONAP is working towards preventing the spread of the HIV virus.
- Condoms – when condoms were consistently used, HIV-negative partners were 80% less likely to become infected than those in similar relationships in which condoms were not used.
- Antiretroviral treatment / HIV Medications (PrEP, pre-exposure prophylaxis) – Studies have been done that show a person living with HIV can take medications that reduce the risk of transmitting the disease to their heterosexual partners by 96%. By taking HIV medications, someone can live a healthy, full life while carrying an undetectable viral load of HIV. This lessens the risk of transmission. Also, if the HIV negative partner is on a pre-exposure prophylaxis (HIV prevention medication) because they know their partner has it, if HIV enters the negative person’s blood stream, the chance of HIV infecting cells and reproducing is minimized.
- The discovery of an effective microbicide that prevents HIV transmission to women
It helps to get good information out when you want to prevent the spread of HIV. Part of this is debunking myths about HIV. For example, the risk of contracting HIV from oral sex is close to zero. It’s not impossible (if your gums bleed really easily, or you floss right before performing oral sex), but it’s highly unlikely. But do keep in mind that you can contract other Sexually Transmitted Infections like like syphilis or HPV through oral sex rather easily – HIV is rapidly destroyed outside the body and must break through a mucous membrane to reproduce in the body (the mouth, the anus, the vagina). STIs on the other hand can be transmitted through simple skin contact.
ONAP also want to emphasize that local help is available. Most states have an AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP) that help people who cannot afford AIDS medication to get it. For more information on RNA/Viral Load testing and state HIV medication assistance programs, please read the following pamphlet from http://www.aidsinfo.nih.gov/: