Cross-posted from the HHS blog.
On the first World AIDS Day in 1988, people living with HIV/AIDS faced an uncertain future.
On average, those with AIDS lived only 19 to 30 months after their diagnosis. They had very few treatment options. And in the United States, many couldn’t get the medical care they needed because insurance companies could deny them coverage due to their “pre-existing condition.”
Today, we have a lot of progress to celebrate. On the 28th World AIDS Day, someone diagnosed with HIV soon after infection who gets appropriate care and consistent treatment can expect to live a nearly normal lifespan. Treatment can even reduce the risk of transmitting the virus by up to 96 percent. And no American can be denied health coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
We have even more work to do, though, and that’s why our theme for World AIDS Day 2015 is The Time to Act is Now.
As we push forward the frontiers of medicine, we’ve discovered new prevention options. If you are at risk for acquiring HIV, you can talk to a healthcare professional about taking pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a daily pill that dramatically lowers the possibility of infection. And there are even more breakthroughs on the way. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health, together with private-sector partners, are building new tools that will help us prevent and treat HIV even better in the future.
But these breakthroughs in prevention and treatment can only save the lives of people who can access them. That’s why the Affordable Care Act is so important. Since provisions of the law have taken effect, an estimated 17.6 million Americans have found health coverage, helping us reach the lowest levels of uninsured in our nation’s history. The law has made health coverage more affordable for families and for taxpayers. And families across our country, including families with a loved one living with HIV/AIDS, can rest a little easier knowing that they can’t be dropped from their health coverage because they get sick or discriminated against if they have a pre-existing condition.
If you or a loved one lives with HIV and needs health coverage, now is the time to get covered. The Health Insurance Marketplace is open for business!
Visit HealthCare.gov, call 1-800-318-2596 for 24/7 confidential assistance in English or Spanish, or find help in your community at LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov to learn about your options. People are available to help, whether in person or over the phone.
Open Enrollment runs until the end of January, but if you need coverage that starts January 1st, you need to sign up by December 15th.
This World AIDS Day, let’s reflect on the many people we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS and the many lives we can save in the years to come. We’re making strides toward an AIDS-free generation with our National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020, and a new Federal Action Plan that will guide our efforts across the federal government.
But we can’t do this alone. We need everyone to be involved. That starts with you.
Do you know your HIV status? If you don’t, please get tested. You can use AIDS.gov’s HIV Testing Sites & Care Services Locator. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most healthcare plans offer HIV testing without any co-pay or deductible.
If you are living with the virus, health insurance can help you get the right treatment. And if you’re shopping for coverage, you can check health plans for their specific coverage, like prescriptions, that can affect your costs and your care. For more information on your options for health coverage, visit HealthCare.gov.
Over the course of these 28 World AIDS Days, we’ve made some great strides. With your help, we can keep up the pace toward a generation that’s truly AIDS-free.