Tiffany Ryan, VP, Account Services, Palio
Thirty years of HIV.
Today I wear a red ribbon for HIV. I wear it with reflection, empathy, understanding, and a desire to do more.
For the early sufferers who spoke up and brought awareness to a disease in the midst of stigma, hatred and misunderstanding. I wear it to honor people like Elizabeth Glaser, Joey DiPaolo, and Ryan White. I wear it to honor their bravery, compassion, and dedication to addressing the issue, speaking up for what is right, and holding true to their beliefs.
For those who bring awareness, support, and information to the communities impacted with HIV every single day. I wear it to honor these individuals – doctors, nurses, case managers, AIDS support groups, peer educators, and counselors. I wear it to honor their passion and dedication to making a difference.
For those living with the virus. I wear it to honor their personal fight against HIV.
But most importantly, today I wear a red ribbon because even after 30 years of information, activism, awareness and education, we still have a long way to go. Because even after 30 years of evolution in treating HIV, we still haven’t cured it. Because even after 30 years of understanding HIV and how to prevent transmission, we have more work to do. The epidemic grows. The stigma grows.
This week the CDC released estimates from three surveillance datasets about the HIV care continuum in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
- Today there are approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV. And 20% are unaware they are infected.
- Out of the 80% aware of their status, 77% of HIV-infected adults are linked to medical care for their HIV treatment, but only half of them remain in medical care
- Transmission reduction strategies are limited, with less than half of HIV patients indicating that they received prevention counseling
Couple these figures with the fact that the incidence of annual infections remains stable at approximately 48,000 new infections each year, it’s clear that more needs to be done.
The National HIV/AIDS strategy has several measurable goals which, if achieved, could have tremendous impact on this issue. Goals include:
- Lowering the annual number of infections by 25% by 2015
- Increasing the number of people living with HIV who know their status to 90%
- Reducing HIV transmission rate by 30%
- Increasing the number of patients linked to medical care within three months of their diagnosis
The strategy aims to increase prevention efforts, access to care, and reduce HIV-related disparities in high risk communities. It’s a start. But we won’t beat this epidemic until HIV and AIDS once again becomes part of our consciousness. When we reduce apathy and take action. All the government agencies, special committees, and strategies can’t solve the issue. We all must take responsibility for our part.
It’s hard to some up what 30 years really means to this epidemic. For me personally, it’s going to be a day of reflection and remembrance. It’s impossible not to acknowledge the history, evolution, and growth in understanding the disease. If you have four minutes today to reflect and remember, check out The Kaiser Family Foundation video – summarizing thirty years of milestones. We’ve made huge progress so far. I’m hopeful that in my lifetime I’ll witness many more positive milestones leading us toward the eradication of this disease.
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