World AIDS Day 2019 #WAD2019
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to end the HIV epidemic in the United States. Now is the time.“
World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988. Each year, on December 1, organizations and individuals across the world work to bring attention to the continuing HIV epidemic, endeavoring to increase HIV awareness and knowledge, speak out against HIV stigma, and call for an increased response to move toward Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America.
HIV in America
Collective efforts over many years at the local, state, and federal levels have successfully increased the proportion of people living with HIV who know their status and who are in care and receiving HIV treatment. In addition, our collective efforts have reduced new HIV infections to the lowest level ever. But, progress is slowing and new threats to our continued progress have emerged.
According to the latest available data, in 2017, 38,739 people received an HIV diagnosis in the United States.  That annual number of new diagnoses has remained essentially stable since 2013. Further, approximately 15% (or 1 in 7) of the estimated 1.1 million people with HIV in the U.S. don’t know they have it. These data make clear that not all people who need them are benefitting from the proven HIV prevention and treatment tools currently available. Specifically, certain populations and geographic areas continue to bear a disproportionate burden of HIV disease, requiring us to sharpen the focus of our collective prevention efforts on:
- Gay and bisexual men who are the population most affected by HIV in all regions of the country. In 2017, gay and bisexual men accounted for 66% ( 25,748) of all HIV diagnoses and 82% of diagnoses among males. 
- African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos who are disproportionately affected by HIV. African Americans account for only 13% of the population, but 43 % of HIV diagnoses in 2017.  Hispanics/Latinos account for only 18% of the population, but 26% of HIV diagnoses in 2017.
- Southern states accounted for 52% of the 38,739 new HIV diagnoses in 2017. Southern states account for just 38% of the U.S. population, so HIV diagnoses are not evenly distributed regionally in the United States. Further, in the South the impact of HIV is greater than in any other region. The latest data tells us that 51% of annual HIV infections, 46% of persons with HIV, and 51% of undiagnosed HIV infections were found in the South.
Knowledge of HIV status is the entry point to linkage to receiving effective care and treatment for those who test positive, helping them to stay healthy and prevent new HIV infections. A person with HIV who takes HIV medicine daily as prescribed and gets and stays virally suppressed [having very low levels of HIV present in the body, known as a low viral load] can stay healthy and has effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to HIV-negative partners.
Despite these outstanding benefits of HIV treatment, the latest data tells us that among all adults and adolescents with HIV in the U.S., only: 
- 63% received some HIV medical care,
- 49% were retained in continuous HIV care, and
- 51% had achieved viral suppression (having a very low level of the virus as a result of treatment). 
Knowledge of HIV status is also an entry point to prevention services for those who test negative. Today’s highly effective HIV prevention tools include pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, a daily pill which reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%. However, fewer than 10% of Americans who could benefit from PrEP have been prescribed it.Continue reading