World AIDS Day is an opportunity for all of us to learn the facts about HIV. By increasing the understanding of how HIV is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and the reality of living with HIV today-we can use this knowledge to take care of our own health and the health of others.
Today, despite advances in HIV treatment and in laws designed to protect those living with HIV; many people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV or about the stigma and discrimination that remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is an important reminder to individuals and governments that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
The theme for World AIDS Day 2011 is “Getting to Zero.” After 30 years of the global fight against HIV/AIDS, this year the focus is on achieving 3 targets: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.
Zero New HIV Infections
Testing is the only way to identify the nearly 250,000 Americans currently living with HIV who do not know they’re infected – that’s 1 in 5 of all Americans with HIV. HIV testing and diagnosis are the first steps toward connecting people to life-extending treatment, as well as helping to prevent the spread of HIV to partners.
- Everyone ages 13-64 get tested at least once.
- Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) be tested for HIV and STIs at least annually. CDC data show that sexually active MSM might benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
- Others at high risk for HIV should also get tested more often (at least annually). This includes injection-drug users and their sex partners, persons who exchange sex for money or drugs, and sex partners of HIV-infected persons.
- Women get tested during each pregnancy.
According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, “Stigma remains the single most important barrier to public action. It is a main reason why too many people are afraid to see a doctor to determine whether they have the disease, or to seek treatment if so. It helps make AIDS the silent killer, because people fear the social disgrace of speaking about it, or taking easily available precautions. Stigma is a chief reason why the AIDS epidemic continues to devastate societies around the world.”
Discrimination against those infected with HIV/AIDS includes both the fear of getting the disease and also negative assumptions about people who are infected. AIDS-related stigma has had a profound effect on the epidemic’s course. The World Health Organization cites fear of stigma and discrimination as the main reason why people are reluctant to be tested, to disclose their HIV status or to take antiretroviral drugs.
Zero AIDS Related Deaths
More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus worldwide, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history. In the US, nearly 594,500 people with AIDS in the US have died since the epidemic began.
The goal of ‘Zero AIDS Related Deaths’ signifies an increased access to available treatments for all those infected. Currently, only one third of the 15 million people living with HIV worldwide who are in need of life long treatment are receiving it. Universal access to antiretroviral treatments for those living with HIV will not only decrease the number of AIDS related deaths, but will increase the quality of life among those infected and decrease transmission.
WORLD AIDS DAY CELEBRATIONS IN DAYTON:
at First Baptist Church of Dayton
5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
at Club Masque
8:00 PM – 02:00 AM