This Saturday, December 01, is World AIDS Day, a global day of awareness for a disease that has killed so many and is still widespread. It is particularly disconcerting that on November 28, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a new report about the spread of HIV/AIDS in the United States. According to their findings, more than 25 percent of new infections are among young people, aged 13 to 24. Even more significant than this frightening statistic is the fact that approximately 60 percent of them have no idea that they are infected. This lack of awareness will cause both additional spreading of the virus, as well as a lack of treatment that will shorten lives.
CDC Director, Doctor Thomas Frieden said, in a conference call with reporters, “The report really provides shocking data on the higher rate of risky behavior and the lower rate of condom use among young men”. According to CDC estimates, 12,200 young men and women became infected in 2010. Nearly 75 percent were boys and young men having homosexual sex, and more than 50 percent were African American. The report also said that only 35 percent of 1individuals aged 18 to 24 years have been tested for HIV/AIDS. Among high school students, the percentage was 13 percent.
The CDC estimates that approximately 1 million people in the United States are currently infected with the AIDS virus, and that more than 50,000 new infections take place every year. Their conclusion is that good sex education in schools, in combination with testing and treatment for infection is the answer for slowing this epidemic down. Frieden said, “I don’t think that there is a simple answer for this, but we are not in support of mandatory testing. The key here is to make it routine screening, just like we have cholesterol screening. If someone refuses, that is their right, but we should say, ‘This is what we do’. People who are tested can get treated. If we double the number of people treated effectively, we cut in half, roughly, the number of new infections that will occur.”
Although researchers feel that they are getting closer to an HIV/AIDS vaccine, a combination of drugs are able to help people infected with the virus remain relatively healthy. The death toll from the disease has decreased sharply over the past 10 years, but the number of new cases continues to grow rapidly, even with better access to both screenings and treatment. This link will take you to an abundance of information about HIV and AIDs, including screening and treatment. Educate yourself and your loved ones about the risks and how to avoid them. Awareness is the key.