World AIDS Day Focuses On Prevention

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According to an article in http://www.blackamerica.com

The commemoration of World AIDS Day on Wednesday is a reminder of the ongoing struggle and fight that many people and families go through with this deadly disease, one that has been an epidemic for decades and is especially prominent in the black community.

According to Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a new infection occurs every 9.5 minutes, totaling 56,000 new infections each year. Those are scary numbers to hear – and even scarier for those people who either suffer from it themselves or have to care for a loved one with the disease.

“Now my uncle lives in a nursing home and looks older than my 77-year-old grandmother. I am sad when I see him because I remember who he was, and now I see who this disease made him to be,” said Toneshia Stephenson, a sophomore at Howard University, whose uncle has lived with the disease for more than 10 years.

Like Stephenson, many other families have to live with the memories of what their loved one “used to be” because of AIDS.

On a positive note, anti-AIDS activists around the globe are both commemorating those lost and mounting massive information campaigns Wednesday, which marks the annual World AIDS Day.

Our Good Karma, a group of Howard University sophomores committed to affecting change on a variety of issues, are headed to several high schools in D.C. on Wednesday to raise awareness about AIDS .

The group’s members will give the students facts about the epidemic, teach them about abstinence and also hand out condoms.

“We live for change and good deeds, and that’s what the world lacks – people that care and somebody willing to give a helping hand,” Nelson Jean-Louis, a member of Our Good Karma, said in describing the event’s purpose and inspiration.
“That’s what we’re here for,” adding that awareness was important. “The problem with this AIDS epidemic is that we lack information. Once you have knowledge, you have control.”

“Today, too few people are able to access prevention services, and urgent action is needed to reach those with the greatest needs; including African-Americans, Latinos and men who have sex with men. Greater efforts are also needed to ensure all Americans are tested for HIV and that those who test positive are linked to care,” the CDC’s Fenton said in a statement.

He said that while testing for HIV/AIDS is at a record high, data finds that more than half of Americans have never been tested, meaning that significant numbers of people are likely unaware that they have the virus.

According to Fenton, “32 percent of people diagnosed with HIV in the United States progressed to AIDS within 12 months, indicating that there were way too many late diagnoses and missed opportunities to get life extending treatment and protect their partners.”

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