We turn today to San Francisco and ask what sort of care do people with HIV/AIDS receive here, and a natural starting point for this question is to look at treatment — specifically antiretroviral therapy.
In 2010 San Francisco became the first city to institute a policy of offering treatment to everybody with HIV, and so I asked Diane Jones, RN, a nurse at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Positive Health Program at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, how that works in practice. Here’s what she said:
“Most people who we offer [antiretroviral therapy] to want it,” said Jones, who has worked for 30 years as an HIV/AIDS nurse at Ward 86. “Between 80 and 90 percent of our 3,000-plus patients are on antiretroviral therapy.”
There are still issues to be faced in getting medicine to people who want to take them, she said, including navigating insurance and benefit programs and dealing with stigma.
Jones has a lot to say about stigma and how it has burdened people living with HIV/AIDS since the very beginning of the epidemic. Socially stigmatized HIV/AIDS continues to fuel the disease in the United States and worldwide. It keeps people from getting tested, it prevents people from disclosing their status, it keeps people out of care, it makes treatment more difficult, and for far too many people living with HIV, it adds undue stress to their daily lives.
In this video, Diane Jones discusses how stigma continues to live unabated in many ways today — and how that is apparent when people are first diagnosed with HIV. Despite the advent of highly effective, lifesaving antiretroviral therapy and other advances, people today face many of the same psychological burdens as people diagnosed years ago, Jones said.
In recognition of the importance of this issue, the official declaration of the XIX International AIDS Conference calls for addressing stigma and ending discrimination as central elements to ending the AIDS epidemic. Read about it in the Washington D.C. Declaration.
Diane Jones, RN is a nurse at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Positive Health Program at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (SFGH).
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