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World AIDS Day (December)

December 1st is World AIDS day. World AIDS day was established in 1988 by the World Health Organization to focus attention on the continuing impact of the epidemic and encourages each of us to take action to expand our collective response to the epidemic of HIV/AIDS.

Every 9 ½ minutes, someone in the United States is infected with HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than one million people in the United States are living with HIV. One in five people living with HIV are unaware of their infection. There are currently 33.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. Every year another 56,000 Americans become infected with the virus.

What is HIV/AIDS? Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that weakens your immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of the HIV infection. People at this stage have badly damaged immune systems, which put them at risk for opportunistic infections (an illness caused by any one of various organisms that occur in people with weakened immune systems such as pneumonia, other fungal, viral, or parasitic infections).

Risks include:

  • Unprotected sexual activity
  • Sharing needles
  • Contact with infected blood or bodily fluids

Many people who are HIV positive do not have symptoms. Often, people do not feel sick until they progress towards AIDS.

Prevention

  • Know your status!
  • Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested for HIV at least once

This information was provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information regarding HIV/AIDS please contact the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy at ((202) 690-5560 or at www.hiv.gov. You may also find basic information at www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/index.html.

Article provided by Stephanie Monger, Intern from James Madison University working with Dana Breeding, RN Health Educator of Community Wellness at Augusta Health. To contact Dana Breeding, RN related to the information above, please call (540) 332-4988 or (540) 932-4988.