This month, we marked World AIDS Day in Palm Beach County — an opportunity for all of us to unite in an effort to stop new HIV infections, support those affected by HIV, and remember those who have lost their lives to HIV-related diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this year’s theme, Increasing Impact through Transparency, Accountability, and Partnerships, was aimed at challenging our community to work together to accelerate progress toward ending HIV as a public health threat around the world.
CDC offers many ideas to make this happen. It all starts with partnerships at the local, state and federal levels, as well as public-private ventures. Here’s how the agency explains it:
“Since the beginning of the epidemic, partnerships among governments, multilateral institutions, the private sector, community-based organizations, and many others have been key to the programs and scientific achievements that have brought us to this moment—we now have the tools needed to control the epidemic and lay the groundwork for ending this disease. To reach that goal, we must continue to strengthen our partnerships, be accountable in using resources as efficiently and effectively as possible, and be transparent in making sure our work delivers the results we need.”
The approach is starting to work.
Today, close to 37 million people are living with HIV worldwide, according to CDC. Global efforts have resulted in 19.5 million people worldwide receiving lifesaving antiretroviral treatment as of September 2017. Since the peak of the epidemic in 2005, annual AIDS-related deaths have declined by 48%.
However, much work remains locally and across the globe. In 2016, two million people were newly infected with HIV, and one million people died of AIDS-related causes.
In the United States, HIV is declining. CDC estimates that annual new diagnoses decreased 5% from 2011 to 2015, with greater declines among some groups, such as heterosexuals, people who inject drugs, and white gay and bisexual men. Despite this improvement, more than 39,700 people received an HIV diagnosis in 2016, and diagnoses have increased among some Americans, such as Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men.
We urgently need to do more. We cannot stop now.
So what should be done in Palm Beach County and beyond?
Let’s start with this: CDC recommends that everyone in the United States aged 13-64 get tested at least once as part of routine medical care. People at high risk for HIV should get tested at least once a year. Some sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
Learn more what else can be done here.
This is exciting turning point in the battle to end HIV. But we need a new burst of energy to end stigma, end HIV transmission, and end the isolation experienced by people living with HIV, for good.
In Palm Beach County, let’s all do our part.