The new, statewide Colorado AIDS Project has the same aim as NCAP and all the other regional CAPs have had for years: equal access to culturally competent, high-quality primary and specialty medical care for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). And we want those who are at risk of the disease to have access to accurate information to prevent the disease’s spread.
We believe the new statewide entity is ideally situated to achieve these aims, with four regional offices and additional testing locations throughout the state. As our business plan lays out, we’re moving to a place where we can enhance capacity, increase efficiency, and generate economies of scale. We can bring a measure of standardization and the incorporation of best practices into service delivery across the state. And we can provide a united voice for responding to changing political climates and their resultant funding realities.
All of this matters now more than ever, because the political climate and funding realities really are changing, as is the nature of the pandemic right here at home. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) estimates that as of 2008, there are more than 10,000 PLWHA in Colorado. As many as 25% of the PLWHA in Colorado may be unaware of their status and thus not included in that 10,000 number. CDPHE estimates a 15% increase in infection rates in Colorado in the last five years. In 2006, it estimated 322 new cases of HIV in Colorado, but cautioned that the estimate may be low by as much as 40%.
All of this is a way of saying that although the collective focus of people in the U.S. has drifted from HIV/AIDS, the disease has not gone away. The threat is ever present and very real. The new, statewide Colorado AIDS Project – and indeed all Coloradans – have much yet to do in the ongoing fight.