The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is launching a nation-wide campaign on June 18 designed to encourage people with HIV who are not currently in care to seek care, stay in care, and achieve viral suppression.
The campaign features the stories and experience of a diverse group of people who have been living with HIV and thriving as a result of viral suppression.
The United States is making progress toward ending the HIV epidemic, a key goal of the federal government. New infections have been steadily declining since the height of the epidemic in the mid-1980s. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of people with HIV were virally suppressed or undetectable — almost 57% in 2019. However, a sizable minority of people with HIV are not in care or taking medication that protects their health. A person living with HIV who takes HIV medicine as prescribed and gets and stays virally suppressed can stay healthy and cannot sexually transmit HIV to HIV-negative partners.
Funded by HHS’ Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP), the “I am a Work of ART” campaign encourages people who are not in care or who have fallen out of care to seek HIV care. The campaign seeks to increase the number of people with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load through HIV medication — also known as antiretroviral therapy, or “ART.” If taken as directed, ART can reduce the amount of HIV in the blood to a very low level. This outcome is called viral suppression.
The campaign focuses on reaching people who live in areas where the viral suppression rates are lower than the national rate. These areas include Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Tulsa, and Washington, DC. Increasing the number of people with HIV who are virally suppressed is a key strategy of the Federal Government’s Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
The “I am a Work of ART” campaign will feature a diverse group of community members with HIV who share their experiences of getting into HIV care, using ART, and living healthy lives. Through their stories, the campaign encourages people with HIV who are not in regular care to seek a health care provider through the HIV Testing and Care Services locator on HIV.gov so they can achieve viral suppression.
One community member, Jasmine, is a transgender activist and a leader in Miami’s ballroom scene. Living with HIV for 16 years, Jasmine shares in the campaign that, when first diagnosed, her HIV status “nearly killed” her. But when she was able to start antiretroviral therapy, she began to live “life loud — and proud — on our terms.” Another community member, Joey, has been living with HIV for six years. He was kicked out of his home at 13 when he came out to his family, and six years later, was diagnosed with HIV. But now that he is on ART, Joey says that he can live, “a life focused on my dreams, not a diagnosis, a life that I use to advocate for others like me.”
The “I am a Work of ART” campaign will launch in Miami on June 18, 2022, with an exhibit of the campaign artwork as well as a roundtable discussion with the community members featured in the campaign. The discussion will be facilitated by Harold Phillips, the Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP). Mr. Phillips, an out gay man living with HIV since 2005, began work as ONAP director in June 2021.