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July 9, 2009

Text from the keynote speech by Charles King, president and CEO of Housing Works, at the 10th Annual Prevention and Outreach Summit in Philadelphia...

"... Imagine what would happen if we were offering housing or rental assistance to every single HIV+ person who needed it, and offering every single person who is HIV+ access to ARV’s. Just with those two structural interventions, plus one other, you could bring the epidemic to a screeching halt even before we had a vaccine or a cure. Why, because the vast majority of people who go on ARV’s before their immune systems are destroyed and are reasonably adherent…not perfectly, just reasonably…the viral load is reduced to an undetectable level.

"What does that mean? Well, it means that particularly in sexual interactions, even without condoms, it becomes very difficult to transmit the virus. We would have dramatically reduced the viral pool, making reliance on changing individual behaviors in moments of passion and ecstasy, whether natural or chemically induced, no longer the principle vehicle for preventing transmission. Couple that with clean needles for IV drug users, Medicaid or insurance-funded hormones for transgender folk, and treatment for HIV+ pregnant women, particularly at time of delivery, and we would have cut off just about every means of viral transmission. Now that is prevention that follows science!"

Read more in POZ HIV/AIDS Special Reports, July 9, 2009.