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Wednesday, May 06, 2020 - Ryan White Wellness Center urges community not to delay testing and treatment for HIV

People living with HIV may forego medical care out fear or stigma and the Ryan White Wellness Center is concerned that COVID-19 may be exasperating these dangerous delays.

Forty years after the first reported cases of HIV, local experts are testing, treating, and supporting people living with HIV, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. While a cure is yet to be developed, HIV can be treated and controlled effectively, allowing people living with the virus to lead normal, healthy lives.

This week, the number of COVID-19 cases in the US surpassed 1.1 million cases, the same number of people estimated to be living with HIV in the United States.  Although COVID-19 and HIV are very different diseases, they share the need for large-scale public health responses.

“The only way to know if you have HIV is to be tested and to make a substantial impact on HIV rates, that testing has be to large-scale and routine,” said Aaron O’Brien, quality and development manager of the Ryan White Wellness Center. “During this period of social distancing, people are avoiding medical appointments for a number of valid reasons, but people living with HIV need to know that they should continue to engage in treatment and receive care and supportive services throughout this time.”

In June 2019, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg signed the Paris Declaration, making Charleston the 24th US city to gain Fast Track City status. The declaration outlines ambitious targets and brings together experts and resources to work towards ending the HIV epidemic in our region. This week, Fast Track Cities International announced the unveiling of Charleston’s data dashboard on its website www.fast-trackcities.org/

For more information on where to access HIV testing and treatment, visit the Ryan White Wellness Center online.

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