Nearly 30 years after the emergence of HIV/AIDS, the statistics on infection remain alarming. HIV/AIDS continues to wreak havoc on populations around the globe, especially among men who have sex with men (MSM), individuals living in poverty, and those living in Sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 33.4 million people live with HIV/AIDS worldwide, including 1.1 million here in the U.S. A recent CDC study showed that of those infected here in the U.S., a terrifying 44% of MSM are unaware of their status. HIV/AIDS continues to tear through our communities, but there is hope.
Earlier this year, the administration released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the first comprehensive national strategy on HIV/AIDS, which included a federal implementation plan to direct the goals addressed in the strategy. The strategy aims at three primary goals: reducing the number of those infected, increased access to care for those already infected and reducing HIV-related health disparities. These goals are the end state of the strategy’s clear and simple vision:
The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.
Toward that end, just last week, after years of investments in research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced results of an international study to determine whether drugs used to treat HIV can also help prevent the infection. The trial demonstrated for the first time that a pill taken daily to treat HIV is partially effective for preventing HIV among gay and bisexual men at high risk for infection, when combined with other prevention strategies. News of this new tool is very exciting and on this day, very welcomed.
While we are proud of the progress that has been made, both here and globally we still have a long fight ahead of us in this struggle. This is particularly true when it comes to devoting the kinds of resources necessary to battle the disease domestically as well as internationally. We remain committed to doing everything we can to continue the progress toward reducing and eventually eliminating HIV/AIDS, but we need your help. There are plenty of ways to make a difference on this World AIDS Day; attend a World AIDS Day event, or consider donating to or participating with organizations that address HIV/AIDS issues. Even the simple act of wearing a red ribbon can help by bringing visibility to this struggle, and starting a conversation about the issue. Here at HRC, we are assembling a mosaic of people who support the fight against HIV/AIDS. You can add your image to this mosaic of people, and then ask your friends to do the same, to sound off and show your support during World AIDS Day.
On this World AIDS Day, let us stand together as we continue to bring education and awareness to the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, do our part to reduce new infections and continue to pressure law makers to do everything they can to pass laws and policies that reduce or eliminate the impact of HIV/AIDS. It may be a long road, but the news of this recent research has given us renewed hope that together we can make life better for those infected, while working to make HIV/AIDS a thing of the past.