US launches project to help most at risk of HIV

World Today

To mark World AIDS Day, the U.S. government launched a new project aimed at helping those groups most at risk of contracting HIV across the world. Known as Linkages, it is a global project dedicated to so-called key populations,’ like sex workers, men who have sex with men, and intravenous drug users.

CCTV America’s Kate Fisher reported from Washington, D.C.

US launchs a project to helps groups most at risk of HIV

US launchs a project to helps groups most at risk of HIV

To mark World AIDS Day, the U.S. government launched a new project aimed at helping those groups most at risk of contracting HIV across the world. Known as Linkages, it is a global project dedicated to so-called 'key populations', like sex workers, men who have sex with men and intravenous drug users. CCTV America's Kate Fisher reported from Washington, D.C.
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Three years after being diagnosed with HIV, Patrick Ingram is living life fully playing with his dog Coco, running marathons and working full time, while also studying for a degree in public health. But that’s not how his life with HIV began.

“When I found out my status, I essentially got a sheet of paper and told to call one of the numbers on there for a clinic I felt comfortable going to,” Ingram said. “I called. I set up an appointment, and things just never worked out. I would show up, and they wouldn’t have me on their books. I would leave messages, and no one would call me back. So after dealing with that for about a week and knowing I was really sick, I wanted to give up.”

But once he found the right support network, managing his life got easier.

“Having a medical case manager who walks me through any issues I may have, if it comes to housing, paying utility bills, even dealing with disclosing it to people. I just think having a whole team is really important. It’s more than just having a doctor.it’s about having an entire team of people who are really just focused in on you and your health,” he said.

It’s that kind of comprehensive support that U.S. government AIDS experts are looking to introduce into other countries, too.

They also launched a new project recently aimed at helping gay men like Patrick and other communities that are disproportionately affected by HIV, like sex workers and people who inject drugs. In Africa, Asia, and Latin America, those communities were much more likely to be living with HIV, but getting treatment was much harder because of stigma, discrimination, or even criminalization. But this project aimed to change that.

The U.S. government funded the Linkages program with $73 million over five years. Its director said targeting these groups is vital to eliminating AIDS once and for all.

“Especially in generalized epidemics like in sub-Saharan Africa, where primarily a lot of the focus has been on generalized work, we’ve often ignored the needs of key populations. We’ve now realized that if we don’t start addressing the needs of key populations within those generalized epidemic scenarios, we’re never going to get to the end of AIDS,” Kevin Osborne, director of Linkages Program, said.

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