PHOENIX — "We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put an end to the AIDS epidemic," said Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Robert Redfield at a press conference in Phoenix Wednesday.
Dr. Redfield's visit to the Valley was prompted by the fact that out of 3,000 CDC jurisdictions in the country, Arizona has seven jurisdictions in the top 50 when it comes to new HIV infections every year.
"One of the reasons I'm here is that you are one of the jurisdictions that have made up the top 50 jurisdictions that accounted for 50% of all the new HIV infections in the United States,” said Redfield.
Research has shown African-American and Latino men between the ages of 25 to 34 who have sex with other men are at greater risk.
Dr. Redfield was joined by state officials to unveil the strategies that are currently underway to bring awareness to the groups most affected.
Dr. Christ, the Director for Arizona Department of Health Services, introduced Dr. Redfield during a media roundtable where she discussed the more than 200 partnerships the department has created with the community to help provide testing and treatment.
"We have "Victory Over HIV" which is Arizona's plan to end the HIV epidemic," said Dr. Christ.
In 2017, Arizona had 768 new HIV positive diagnoses. Erin Dolby lives in Phoenix and has been sober and HIV positive for nine years.
She spoke to ABC 15 about the treatment she undergoes every day which allows her HIV to remain “virally suppressed.”
"My husband is negative and so is my three-and-a-half-year-old Rowan, and my six-month-old is negative as well," says Dolby. "They (researchers) found that those who were medically suppressed on medication - there is absolutely zero percent risk of infection to their uninfected partner.
"I think if we started educating that HIV was manageable like diabetes maybe, just maybe those who are engaging in high-risk behavior wouldn't be as scared to get tested," says Dolby.
"Successful treatment of all individuals living with HIV is one of the most important prevention strategies that we can operationalize," adds Dr. Redfield.
"I don't like to look at it as an illness anymore. It’s a condition and the quicker that everybody can get on that page the better off everyone is going to be," said Erin.
For more information about HIV testing in Arizona click on the links below: