30th Anniversary of World AIDS Day
NEWARK, NJ – This year marks the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day; a global event uniting all in support of those living with HIV as well as remembering those who have lost their battle with AIDS-related illnesses. Although we have endured endless struggle in this thirty-year fight, we have finally achieved a historic milestone. Today, medical and scientific advancements have undeniably changed the landscape of this dreadful epidemic.
Even though there’s still no cure for HIV, the advancement of treatment options has increased the quality of life for those living with HIV infection. Having HIV is no longer a death sentence; we now consider this infection to be a manageable, chronic condition. Taking daily HIV medicine, also known as antiretroviral therapy (ART), helps people living with HIV control the virus in their bodies so they can live long, healthy lives in addition to lowering their risk of spreading HIV to others.
The observance of World AIDS Day reminds us to stay focused and continue striving towards ending HIV infection both in the United States and globally. We still have a significant battle ahead; many living with HIV are unaware of their own infection, putting their health and the health of others at risk. Testing is the only way to be sure of one’s HIV status; you cannot rely on symptoms to tell whether your or someone else has HIV. Ignoring one’s infection will not make it go away. HIV treatment works, but it is a lifelong commitment requiring regular medical care.
Although anyone having sex, especially unprotected sex, is at risk for HIV infection, some groups (populations) have a much higher chance of getting HIV. “In the United States, HIV is mainly spread by having sex or sharing syringes and other injection equipment with someone who is infected with HIV.” We can decrease new infections by encouraging HIV testing for all, linking newly diagnosed individuals to medical care in a timely manner, keeping people living with HIV engaged in continued medical treatment (viral suppression), promoting partner communication about safer sex and HIV prevention, and encouraging health care providers to discuss PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) as options for patients at high risk for HIV infection.
Many New Jersey health departments, federally qualified health centers, hospitals and medical centers, community-based organizations, etc. will be hosting events to commemorate World AIDS Day in New Jersey on Saturday, December 1st. Visit the New Jersey Department of Health, HIV, STD and TB Services’ website for a full list of local events. https://web.doh.state.nj.us/apps2/aids/events.aspx
- Referrals for testing sites and other related services
- HIV, STD and hepatitis prevention and treatment information
- Referrals to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) services
- Counseling and treatment locations
- Partner notification
Observance Day hashtags: #WorldAIDSDay, #WAD2018, #ROCKTHERIBBON