Several recent blog posts have discussed the use of the HIV treatment cascade to identify issues and opportunities related to improving the delivery of services to persons living with HIV (PLWH) along each major stage of the continuum of care and the associated imperative that we all do better at engaging a higher percentage of PLWH at each stage along the care continuum in order to achieve better outcomes for them and reach all of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s goals. To complement those several posts describing the treatment cascade as a model, recently, AIDS.gov sat down with Mario Perez to discuss how Los Angeles County is using the HIV treatment cascade as a tool to inform local HIV prevention, treatment, and care efforts. Mr. Perez is the Director of the Division of HIV and STD Programs at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS.
The cascade illustrates the proportion of individuals living with HIV/AIDS engaged in each of those various steps along the continuum of HIV care from initial diagnosis of HIV infection and linkage to care, to initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART), retention in care, and achievement of viral suppression (meaning no detectable virus in the blood).
As Mr. Perez explains, in California, they have adapted the HIV treatment cascade for use at the state and local levels. By using local data and carefully analyzing each step along the care continuum, Los Angeles County was able to determine, for example, that were significant drop-offs between the proportions of residents diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and those who were linked to care. The County subsequently used this information to assess and improve their system of care, bolstering linkage to care programs, supporting peer navigator programs, and engaging in other efforts designed to address this identified area of need. This is an example of how local communities and jurisdictions nationwide are using the HIV treatment cascade as a tool to help evaluate their progress, determine what areas need to be fine-tuned, and guide future planning efforts to meet the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
Watch the conversation with Mario:
To learn more about the HIV Treatment Cascade, see the following blog posts: