News: Hennepin County announces HIV strategy at event on World AIDS Day

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Contact: Carolyn Marinan, Communications, 612-348-5969

Hennepin County announces HIV strategy at World AIDS Day event

On Thursday, World AIDS Day, Hennepin County officials announced a sweeping new plan to prevent HIV infections, and to provide better care for those who are infected and better support communities that are disproportionately affected by this disease.

HIV is a present and persistent public health issue in our community. Currently, 55 percent of all Minnesotans living with HIV reside in Hennepin County. 

Today, close to 40 percent of people living with HIV in the county are not accessing care and 50 percent have not had their virus suppressed. 

Recent science has changed outlook

County officials believe they can make a dramatic improvement to those numbers. 

“In the 28 years since that first World AIDS Day,” said Hennepin County Board Chair Jan Callison, “the science of HIV prevention and treatment has advanced tremendously -- to the point that, today, we can say:  HIV is preventable.  It’s treatable.  So, it’s stoppable.” 

Developed with input from several dozen residents who live with HIV, the new "Positively Hennepin" plan will leverage recent medical advancements and broader coordination of health and medical resources to achieve aggressive HIV-reduction goals. 

Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed Thursday, December 1, Positively Hennepin Day in the state of Minnesota to bolster the launch and increase public awareness of this initiative, which he praised in his proclamation for its innovative commitment to coordinating care. 

Big goals are achievable

Dr. Nicholas Vogenthaler, medical director of the Positive Care Center at HCMC and the Red Door at Hennepin County Public Health Clinic, outlined the goals of Positively Hennepin, which he said are both ambitious and achievable:

  • 90 percent of people living with HIV will know their status – they’ll have been tested and know they tested positive. 
  • 80 percent of those people diagnosed with HIV will receive the care they need. Their  virus-suppressing treatment also will serve as prevention. 
  • 70 percent of people diagnosed with HIV will have suppressed virus – they’ll have tested positive, they’ll be retained in treatment, they’ll be healthy and not passing the virus on to others. 
  • 100 percent more people at high risk for contracting HIV will get PrEP – a pill that prevents HIV transmission from people who have tested positive to others. 

Positively Hennepin will accomplish these goals by coordinating care across the county in both the immediate future and for years to come. 

Increasing the impact of our work

Jonathan Hanft, coordinator of Ryan White HIV Services, which connects people living with HIV to needed medical care and other resources, spoke to the importance and innovation of this initiative. 

“Today we commit to redouble our efforts using the most effective approaches to maximize the impact of the work we do to prevent HIV transmission and ensure that all people living with HIV have healthy, vibrant lives,” he said. “Together, we can provide excellent care.” 

Read more about Hennepin County's HIV strategy on Healthy You, Healthy Hennepin.

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