Courtesy the CA Dept of Public Health - Office of AIDS
December 1st marks the 24th annual recognition of World AIDS Day, a campaign designed to increase awareness of the worldwide toll of HIV/AIDS, reduce prejudice and HIV/AIDS-related stigma, and improve education about this disease. This year’s theme is Working Together for an AIDS-Free Generation. Consistent with the first goal of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy – to minimize new HIV infections – the California Department of Public Health, Center for Infectious Diseases, Office of AIDS (OA) embraces the 2012 theme of World AIDS Day and joins in this worldwide effort to implement strategies that will prevent new HIV infections and provide adequate and effective care/treatment and support services for those who are already infected with HIV/AIDS.
Since 1983, over 200,000 people have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in California. Of these, almost half have succumbed to the virus and another two-thirds of the over 110,000 Californians currently living with HIV infection have been diagnosed with AIDS.
However, people with HIV are increasingly living longer and healthier lives due to improved medical treatment and care, causing the death rate from HIV/AIDS to significantly decrease and the number of persons living with HIV/AIDS to steadily increase every year. While the overall number of new infections each year has been decreasing, 4,864 individuals were newly diagnosed with HIV infection in California in the last year. So, there is still work to do.
OA has set three goals that are especially relevant to Working Together for an AIDS-Free Generation. The first is to identify individuals with HIV infection, which will occur through HIV testing in non-medical community settings and opt-out HIV testing in medical settings. The second is linkage to and retention/re-engagement in care for individuals who know they are HIV-infected, as well as a comprehensive assessment of prevention needs for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH/A) in care and non-care settings. And the third is to reduce viral load for individuals and the community, a scientific strategy shown to reduce new infections. These three goals will be achieved in a variety of ways, such as through the use of surveillance data; distributing condoms at targeted venues such as bathhouses, bars and clubs by LHJs (local health jurisdictions); and supporting syringe services programs that serve high-risk individuals, among others.
OA continues to support the goals of the World AIDS Day campaign to eventually eliminate all new HIV infections. OA would also like to recognize the efforts of providers, across the spectrum of prevention, detection, care/treatment and support services, who work to combat this disease.
In recognition of World AIDS Day and toll of HIV/AIDS internationally and specifically within California among those who have been infected and/or affected by this disease, OA urges all persons to become more aware of the risks of HIV and to get tested, and if positive, to seek medical and other support services.
Click HIV Service Referral Network to find a HIV test site and medical facility near you.