Two major problems make controlling the AIDS crisis a difficult challenge, according to policy experts meeting at the 2012 International AIDS Conference just ending in Washington, DC. The first issue is how to find HIV-positive individuals in the population who are outside of the healthcare system; and the second obstacle is how to keep HIV patients on their medication after they begin their treatment.
AIDS activists and policy experts believe that the solution to both of these issues comes partly from the added health coverage mandated by the 2010 health reform law, and partly from the expansion of Medicaid in the new legislation.
The experts also said that the newly implemented determination to provide a wide variety of services to accommodate the complex issues of AIDS patients, such as mental health care and housing, are also going to change the face of AIDS treatment and care.
Director of the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, Ronald Valdiserri explained that until now the government response to caring for AIDS patients has been “siloed.” He said that traditionally different government arms target different AIDS issues, such as one office which is in charge of testing, another handling mental health care, and still a different one delivering treatment or helping patients to find housing.
Today, according to Valdiserri, improved coordination is starting to help patients get through the system more efficiently and easily. If the move towards better integration continues, then the U.S. should be able to meet many of the ambitious goals described in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy formulated two years ago.
“I don’t mean giving lip service to coordination,” Valdiserri said. “I mean on-the-ground coordination.”