Long before there was COVID-19, the world feared another virus: HIV. The virus that causes AIDS has killed more than 40 million people worldwide. Today, however, nearly as many people are living with HIV as have died from it.
In the latest episode of Eyewitness Newsmakers, we discussed the prevention and treatments now available.
Dr. Hrishikesh Belani, HIV Primary Care Specialist at L.A. County Health Services, called HIV a largely chronic disease thanks to improvements in technology and medical advancements.
His newly-diagnosed patients are started on a regimen of one pill a day or one injection every two months. That medication helps control HIV so people who are HIV-positive can now live just as long as people without HIV.
Medications were also discussed with Craig Bowers, Chief Marketing and External Affairs Officer for APLA Health.
He said the new types of medications lower the HIV levels in blood to a point that makes HIV undetectable. That means the virus is then not able to be transmitted to other people. While there's no cure yet for HIV, the goal is to eventually eradicate it by stopping transmission.
APLA Health offers many services to people living with HIV and AIDS. Besides critical medical care, people can also receive behavioral health help, housing and food, all allowing them to maintain their critical medical regimen.
AIDS Walk Los Angeles is the largest fundraiser of the year for APLA Health. While a lot of their money comes from Medi-Cal, the funding from AIDS Walk Los Angeles allows them to do things like prevention and make people aware of the organization. Bowers also says AIDS Walk Los Angeles allows attendees to celebrate life, celebrate advancements and mourn those who have passed from HIV and AIDS.
Another beneficiary of AIDS Walk Los Angeles is Project Angel Food. The non-profit organization was started at the height of the AIDS crisis, when volunteers started delivering food to people with HIV and AIDS. The goal was to provide food to people who were sick or lonely, nourishing their souls. It has since expanded to deliver meals to people with kidney failure, congestive heart failure, cancer, diabetes and more.
Every year, Project Angel Food delivers 1.6 million meals.
Watch the full episode in the media player at the top of this page.