World AIDS Day

Today, December 1, 2014, marks the 27th annual World AIDS Day, which provides an opportunity for people across the globe to show their support for those living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died from the disease. Worldwide it is estimated that 34 million people are living with HIV and more than 35 million people have died from the virus to date. In the United States alone, 1.2 million of our country’s citizens are living with HIV, one in seven of whom are unaware of the infection. In the U.S., gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are the populations most seriously affected by the disease, particularly young, black/African American MSM.

The CDC’s HIV Care Continuum (included below) is a graphical representation of the proportion of individuals living with HIV/AIDS who are engaged at each stage of care. Unfortunately, as depicted below, there are significant drop-offs at each stage:

Source: AIDS.gov

Source: AIDS.gov

Despite these drop-offs, today more than ever before it is possible to live a long and full life with an HIV diagnosis. Early identification and treatment adherence are two of the most important factors in ensuring an individual’s HIV remains under control. Community based organizations (CBOs) are uniquely positioned to identify those who may be at risk of contracting HIV and to serve those who are infected. Universal HIV screening, free condom provision, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment education, and needle exchange programs are just a few of the ways CBOs can work to prevent the spread of the disease and help people successfully move through the care continuum to ultimately become virally suppressed.

Currently, there are several NYS-based funding opportunities for those serving populations uniquely affected by HIV/AIDS, including:

Further, based on federal funding projections for FY 2015, we anticipate federal funding to become available over the next couple months to support services for those at increased risk of contracting HIV across the country.

Today, SAE encourages our network to show their support for those living with HIV by wearing a red ribbon, which is the international symbol of HIV awareness and support. In addition, we ask that you open a dialogue with those who you serve about the virus, as well as encourage them to get tested regularly and engage in safe practices that decrease the likelihood that they will contract the disease.

For more information about World AIDS Day and to access data and statistics related to AIDS/HIV around the world, visit the event’s official website, maintained by the National AIDS Trust, here.