The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a well-established National HIV Program, says Dr. Richard Stone, executive in charge of the VHA. In fact, he notes, the VA is the single largest provider of HIV care in America and has treated 31,000 veterans for HIV.
Thus, the VA plays a critical role in the effort to establish tools and resources to eradicate HIV in the US, Stone says, “one veteran at a time.” To realize this “ambitious but achievable target,” the VA is:
- Offering HIV testing at least once to every veteran and more often to those at risk;
- Rapidly linking those who are diagnosed to effective treatment;
- Deploying an HIV health force to hard-hit areas of the country, expanding timely access to high-quality HIV care and prevention across the VA’s integrated network, with both face-to-face encounters and telehealth; and
- Offering pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) when clinically appropriate.
The primary goal, Stone says, is for veterans with HIV or at risk for HIV to be able to access the best care “safely and free from stigma and discrimination.”
Resources and educational tools are available at www.hiv.va.gov, including recently updated fact sheets and videos for patients about PrEP