By: Rebecca Haag*
BOSTON, Mass.—Sunday, December 1 marks the 25th observance of World AIDS Day, a day when people the world over show solidarity in the fight against HIV/AIDS, demonstrate their support for people with living with HIV, and remember those who have died.
The theme for World AIDS Day 2013 is “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation.”
AIDS Action will mark the day with a ceremony at the Prudential Center at 5 p.m. when the top half of the building will be lit in red lights in honor of those who are living with HIV/AIDS and in remembrance of those we have lost to AIDS.
“This year’s World AIDS Day reminds us that everyone has a role to play in ending this epidemic,” said Rebecca Haag, CEO of AIDS Action Committee. “First, anyone who is sexually active should get an HIV test because knowing your status is critical to staying healthy and slowing the spread of the virus. Second, health care professionals, advocates, civic leaders, and policy makers must ensure that everyone at risk for HIV can access and afford medicine, live in stable housing, have community support, and receive on-going health education. Last, simple acts of kindness can save lives. Call a friend who is living with HIV and tell them that you care. Encourage a friend to get tested. Volunteer at an AIDS service organization.”[pullquote] “This year’s World AIDS Day reminds us that everyone has a role to play in ending this epidemic,” said Rebecca Haag, CEO of AIDS Action Committee. “First, anyone who is sexually active should get an HIV test because knowing your status is critical to staying healthy and slowing the spread of the virus. [/pullquote]
According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. One in five of them are unaware they are infected. The CDC estimates that just one in four people living with HIV in the country are successfully navigating a continuum of care that results in a suppressed viral load, which is necessary for their own health and critical to stopping further transmission of HIV.
“In Massachusetts, the impact of shared responsibility in wiping out HIV is clear,” said Haag. “Our work with partners around the state has given the Commonwealth one of the best track records in stemming this epidemic. Since 1999, we’ve seen a 52 percent reduction in new HIV diagnoses here, which has meant that more than 6,000 people who might otherwise have become HIV positive have remained negative, which will save the state more than $2.4 billion in HIV-related health care costs. But despite the success in curbing the rate of new diagnoses in Massachusetts, nearly 700 people are diagnosed with HIV each year, requiring extensive care and support to manage their health even as state and federal funding for this care continues to be cut. If we are to finish the job, political leaders must continue to work with us to secure adequate resources.” [pullquote]According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. One in five of them are unaware they are infected. [/pullquote]
For information on other local and regional World AIDS Day observances please visit AIDS Action Committee’s World AIDS Day Community Events page.
Those wanting more information about HIV counseling and testing can call AIDS Action Committee at 617.437.6200.
AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is the state’s leading provider of prevention and wellness services for people vulnerable to HIV infection. It provides services to one in six people in Massachusetts living with an HIV diagnosis. These services include HIV counseling and testing; needle exchange; mental health counseling; housing assistance; and legal services. AIDS Action works to prevent new HIV infections, support those affected by HIV, and tackle the root causes of HIV/AIDS by educating the public and health professionals about HIV prevention and care; and advocating for fair and effective HIV/AIDS policy at the city, state, and federal levels. Founded in 1983, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is New England’s first and largest AIDS service organization. In 2013, AIDS Action formed a strategic alliance with Fenway Health that will allow the two organizations to work more closely together and improve delivery of care and services to people living with HIV/AIDS. Learn more at www.aac.org.
*The author is the Executive Director of AAC.
[From a News Release]
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