NEW YORK — Cape Town is worlds away from Chicago, and before I head to South Africa I want to speak with the movers and shakers of HIV prevention and treatment in American cities — where HIV infection rates rival those in southern Africa — about what they think are the “needs improvement” areas for treating the virus in the US.
Dr. Victoria Sharp, who works in HIV clinical care and management at St. Luke’s hospital in Manhattan and who currently serves as president of the board of HealthRight International, told me that despite our success in treating and preventing HIV in the US, there is still much to learn.
“We have multiple tools in our toolkit,” she said, but she does not believe that we are using them to the best of our ability.
“We don’t always do a good job of linking people to treatment,” she explained. She gave an example of a woman who tested HIV positive and then was asked to wait five weeks for the next open appointment before beginning treatment.
“That is called a non-appointment,” she said. “It is so far in the future that people move on and forget to take action."