MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 25, 2013) — The landmark 25th annual observance of World AIDS Day will occur on Dec. 1, 2013 to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and to demonstrate solidarity in the face of the ongoing pandemic that continues to afflict millions around the world.
According to World Health Organization estimates, 35.3 million people are living with HIV worldwide with about 2.3 million that became infected last year. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 50,000 people become newly infected with HIV each year and 1.1 million are living with HIV.
“This data makes it clear that the pandemic is not over and that we must continue to sustain and intensify our efforts to prevent new HIV infections and to get those who are infected into care,” said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health. (MDH). “Looking at our data in Minnesota, we definitely have some work to do.”
An estimated 7,516 people are reported to be living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota, and an average of 300 new infections are diagnosed each year – highlighting the fact that HIV/AIDS remains a major public health issue in our state.
“Our data further shows that HIV continues to have a greater impact on certain communities,” said Ehlinger. “These communities tend to have fewer educational opportunities and have limited access to health care services that can impact their HIV infection rates.”
Health officials noted that gay/bi-sexual men, other men who have sex with men, and men and women of color continue to have disproportionate rates of HIV/AIDS. This is particularly true among African Americans, Latinos and American Indian communities.
“One of the most important steps in reducing infection rates and for preventing the spread of HIV is for people to get tested,” said Ehlinger. “Research has shown that early diagnosis and getting infected individuals into treatment and care can prevent the spread of HIV.”
CDC health officials estimate that one in five persons living with HIV don’t know that they are infected and are unknowingly infecting others.
“In Minnesota, we are trying to expand the HIV testing opportunities and prevention services in communities with higher infection rates by funding programs that directly serve these populations,” said Ehlinger.
The STD and HIV Section at MDH currently funds 20 agencies and the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health funds 6 agencies aimed at preventing the spread of HIV in adults and young people of all races who inject drugs and/or engage in sexual behaviors that transmit HIV.
Health officials emphasize that HIV remains highly preventable by avoiding or delaying the start of sexual activity, using latex condoms consistently and correctly, avoiding the sharing of needles or equipment to tattoo, body pierce or inject drugs, and knowing your HIV status by getting tested.
“In observance of World AIDS Day and to help people learn about HIV, we have set-up several free educational and HIV testing opportunities with our community partners,” said Ehlinger. The MDH website offers a World AIDS Day calendar consisting of free educational and HIV testing events at : World AIDS Day 2013.
In a proclamation marking this year’s observance, Gov. Mark Dayton called for all Minnesotans to educate themselves about the risks and testing opportunities for HIV and demonstrate compassion for those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.
World AIDS Day has been held annually since 1988 under the sponsorship of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and recently through the organization, World AIDS Campaign. More than 200 countries worldwide annually observe World AIDS Day.
World AIDS Day activities will occur throughout December
• Sunday, Dec. 1, Family Tree Clinic, 1619 Dayton Ave., St. Paul, MN 55104: Deaf AIDS Day (1-4 p.m.)
Presentations, AIDS Quilt display, awareness booth and refreshments will be part of this commemoration for those living or have died of HIV/AIDS. Free and public welcome!
• Sunday, Dec. 1, Capri Theatre, 2027 West Broadway, Minneapolis, MN 55411: Getting to Zero/Sarah Simmons Showcase (5-7 p.m.). In memory of local AIDS advocate Sarah Simmons, on-stage performances will be held to highlight the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on the local African and African American communities. Free and public welcome!
• Monday, Dec. 2, La Clinica, 153 Cesar Chavez St., St. Paul (8:30 a.m. – noon) and East Side Family Clinic, 895 E. 7th St. St. Paul (1-4 p.m.): World AIDS Day HIV Testing Event. The “No Tengas Miedo” program will provide free HIV testing for the Latino MSM community. Walk-ins welcome.
• Monday, Dec. 2, American Indian Community Housing Organization, 202 W. 2nd St., Duluth, MN 55802: World AIDS Day Event (3-6 p.m.). Free HIV presentations, HIV testing and food.
• Thursday, December 5, Open Cities Health Center, 409 N. Dunlap St., St. Paul, MN 55104: National World AIDS Day Event (6-8 p.m.). Presentation on “HIV and Resistance” from a renowned national expert. Free and agencies and their clients are encouraged to attend!
• Friday, December 6, Elmer L. Anderson Bldg., 540 Cedar St., Room 2380, St. Paul, MN 55155: “And the Band Played On” Film Showing (noon). A free film docudrama about the first cities affected by HIV/AIDS as seen by the eyes of a CDC researcher.
• Saturday, Dec. 7, North View Junior High School, 5869 69th Ave. N., Brooklyn Park, MN 55429: African World AIDS Day 10th Anniversary Event (3-7 p.m.) The African World AIDS Day (AWAD) Planning Committee is hosting its tenth anniversary event in observance of AWAD. African youth performers, community leaders, agency exhibits, free HIV testing and a free lunch will be included during the event. Dinner will be served. Free and public welcome!
• Sunday, December 8, Honey, 205 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55414: World AIDS Day Ball (10 p.m.). Showcase Ball of local and out-of-town talent to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among LGBTQ communities of color (15$ at door).
• Friday, December 13, Elmer L. Anderson Bldg., 540 Cedar St., Room 2380, St. Paul, MN 55155: “How to Survive a Plague” Film Showing (noon). A free film documentary showing of the AIDS epidemic’s early years and the efforts of ACT UP and TAG.
For additional information about World AIDS Day, visit World AIDS Day 2013 on the MDH website.