However, some experts argue that people taking Truvada for HIV prevention will forego condoms or that improper use of Truvada could lead to the emergence of resistant strains of HIV.
There's also headway being made in improving access and uptake of HIV testing. The goal: "Radically expanding testing so we don't have people who don't know their HIV status, and if you are HIV-positive, you are [then] linked to effective care," Vermund said.
Experts estimate that about one in five people who has HIV does not know it and three recent studies, including one by Vermund and his colleagues, found that only about one-quarter of people with HIV are keeping the virus in check with antiretroviral drugs. Data like that was "a wake-up call" that more needed to be done, Vermund said.
There's good reason to find out your HIV status early, since newer antiretroviral drugs now carry lower risk of side effects, noted Stephen Gange, a professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore. "I think everyone felt comfortable that they could be used fairly widely," he said.
Another milestone in HIV/AIDS care was achieved earlier this month, when the FDA approved the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, the first test that can give a person rapid results on his or her HIV status in the privacy of their own home.
Better access to testing, better outcomes
San Francisco may be ahead of the curve in testing and treating, Vermund said. In 2010, the city announced that any resident living with HIV would be directed to antiretroviral therapy even before they show signs of advancing disease. New York is the only other city to have announced this policy, in December 2011.
Since 2010, the San Francisco Department of Public Health has intensified its efforts on routine HIV testing in emergency rooms, doctors offices and storefront testing sites in high-prevalence neighborhoods, unless patients want to opt o
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