World Aids Day: Remember and Commit
December 1, 2023 marks the 35th commemoration of this important day
The first World AIDS Day took place in 1988, providing a platform to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and honor the lives affected by the epidemic. This year marks the 35th commemoration of this important day. Over the past 35 years, there has been significant progress in addressing HIV and AIDS, thanks to advancements in medical research, increased access to treatment and prevention and a broader understanding of the virus.
This year’s theme, “World AIDS Day 35: Remember and Commit,” pays tribute to those we have lost to HIV/AIDS. The impact of this epidemic has been profound, affecting individuals, families, and entire communities across the globe. Remembering the lives lost not only honors their memory but also emphasizes the urgency of our commitment to end the HIV epidemic.
Through remembrance, we draw strength and determination to redouble our efforts in fighting the disease and providing support to those with HIV. It’s time to remind ourselves of the importance of compassion, empathy, and solidarity in the face of adversity.
The other aspect of this year’s theme, “Commit,” emphasizes our collective responsibility to act. Each one of us can make a difference, whether through working to improve health equity and ending the disparities in access to prevention, care, and treatment; promoting scientific education and awareness; or supporting organizations that work tirelessly to serve those at risk and living with HIV.
While the rate of new HIV infections in the U.S. has declined steadily since 2016, it’s estimated that 1.2 million Americans have HIV today. Of that 1.2 million, an estimated 13 percent of them don’t know it.
According to its latest HIV testing guidelines, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends testing for:
- Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine health care.
- Those with certain ongoing risk factors – such as having more than one sex partner since their last HIV test or having sex with someone whose sexual history they don’t know – should get tested annually. Some sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
- As part of proactive prenatal care, all pregnant people should receive certain blood tests to detect infections and other illnesses, such as syphilis and Hepatitis B.
In addition, people who use IV drugs, especially if they share needles, should be tested frequently.
Today, there are more free, easy, fast, and confidential HIV testing options available than ever before. Testing, including Rapid and mail-in self-testing, are covered by health insurance without a co-pay, as required by the Affordable Care Act. If you do not have medical insurance, some places offer free or low-cost tests.
To find a testing center near you, contact the AIDS Project of Southern Vermont by clicking here or calling (802) 254-4444.
For help understanding your testing options or results, and guidance on sharing results with family, friends, loved ones, and healthcare providers, visit the CDC’s HIV Testing Page.
Dr. Marie George, MD is an Infectious Disease Specialist in Southwestern Vermont Healthcare in Bennington, VT.