Team approach benefits HIV-positive people, our community

Infectious Disease Specialist Amir Khan, MD, says he’s seen advances in the diagnosis and treatment of HIV and AIDS advance over the years. But more progress is needed.

“Stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition,” said Cindy Goetting, HIV case manager and program manager at Carle with 27 years of experience in HIV care.

“As a leader in treating HIV patients, we treat everyone with respect, dignity and compassion.” She hopes that on World AIDS Day, and every day, the community unites to support people and to educate others that HIV is no longer a terminal diagnosis.

“People with HIV are not doomed to get AIDS. However, they need to be committed to their medication regime. There is still no cure but it’s very easily controlled,” said Dr. Khan.

On World AIDS Day, and every day, Carle unites to support people living with HIV. Today, HIV is manageable like many other chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Dr. Khan said progress means no more complicated drug regimens. Today’s HIV positive patients take one pill a day with far fewer side effects. While medication treats the patient, and more importantly decreases the transmission to others by making the virus undetectable in the blood.

Dr. Khan said while the future in bright in terms of treatment, patients must still do their part and tell new partners about their status and always use protection.

Carle provides best practice, comprehensive care for all patients with HIV. Carle cares for more than 400 people with HIV who live throughout central Illinois. The Carle HIV team coordinates with the Champaign Urbana Public Health District, Frances Nelson Health Center, Greater Community AIDS Project and other local agencies to provide quality HIV care to every patient. 

“Each patient in our clinic receives education, expedited care, medication, medical treatments and follow-up encouraging them to continue taking their medicine and getting routine check-ups,” Dr. Khan said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people ages 13-64 be tested at least once for HIV. People with higher risk factors, such as multiple sex partners, or users of injectable drugs should be tested at least once a year. The CDC reports that nearly one in seven people with HIV do not know they are infected so they do not get proper medical care and can pass the virus on to others without knowing it.

Goetting advises people to talk to their primary care physician about testing.

“The virus strikes all people no matter their gender, race or sexual orientation,” she said.