On the first of December, World AIDS Day is celebrated. This day is an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, to remember those who have died of the disease and to celebrate accomplishments, such as increased access to treatment and prevention services. This day is an opportunity to take action and to show your support for the 33.3* million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS.
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.
People around the globe will participate in various events to celebrate life, to begin conversations, to show support, and to honor those that have died. Such as Facing AIDS - "you and your community can help reduce stigma and promote HIV testing by putting a face to AIDS."
*As of 2009, 33.3 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS and of those, 1,178,350 are living in the United States.
Another nationwide project is the Road to AIDS 2012, which "is a nationwide tour that will engage communities on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and ensure community voices are heard in the development of a domestic platform for the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012). The Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services and Community Education Group are working with the International AIDS Society, convener of AIDS 2012, to increase participation of local communities in the 15 U.S. cities most adversely impacted by HIV."
- Nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. (an estimated 1,178,350 adults and adolescents), and one in
- five of those (20 percent) are unaware of their infections. Despite increases in the total number of people living with HIV in the U.S. in recent years, the annual number of new infections has remained relatively stable overall.
- However, HIV infections continue at far too high a level, with approximately 50,000 Americans becoming newly infected with HIV each year.
- More than 16,000 people with AIDS still die each year in the U.S.
- MSM (Men Who Have Sex With Men) represent just 2 percent of the U.S. population, but account for 61 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S. each year, as well as nearly half of people living with HIV (49 percent).
- Individuals infected through heterosexual contact account for 27 percent of annual new HIV infections and 28 percent of people living with HIV.
- While blacks represent approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population, the latest CDC estimates show that they account for almost half of people living with HIV in the U.S. (46 percent), as well as nearly half of new infections each year (44 percent).
- Hispanics represent approximately 16 percent of the population and the latest CDC estimates show that they account for more than 17 percent of people living with HIV in the U.S., as well as 20 percent of new infections each year.
- Read more facts from the CDC-HIV+AIDS in America
The CDC estimates that one in five people living with HIV in the U.S. are unaware of their infection. This highlights the importance of reaching all infected individuals with HIV testing and prevention services. HIV can be transmitted in three main ways: sexual transmission; transmission through blood; and mother-to-child transmission. These three routes of transmission work in tandem to affect segments of the population. The number of infections resulting from each route will vary greatly between countries and population groups. HIV counseling and testing are fundamental for HIV prevention, as is access to essential commodities such as condoms or sterile injecting equipment.
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.
"We can fight stigma. Enlightened laws and policies are key. But it begins with openness, the courage to speak out. Schools should teach respect and understanding. Religious leaders should preach tolerance. The media should condemn prejudice and use its influence to advance social change, from securing legal protections to ensuring access to health care." Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
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.
For more facts about HIV/AIDS, please visit the CDC website and here are some websites that list the various events in Austin, Texas
Staying informed and educated is only a start, to help us in Getting to Zero, you also have to get tested. Here's where you can find service providers offering HIV Testing and a list of AIDS Service Organizations, such as AIDS Services Austin.