Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Every 9 and a Half Minutes, Someone in the U.S. is Infected with HIV

December 1st is World AIDS Day - a day that was established by the World Health Organization in 1988 - that was 21 years ago! Last evening I was talking with my husband about how much progress has been made in the treatment of HIV and AIDS in this country. We are both 'front line' health care providers who have seen HIV disease transform from one of certain death with much pain and suffering to a disease that is manageable for many years. Our patients can now live long, healthy and productive lives - thanks to the availabilty of excellent antiretroviral treatment. However, not everyone has the luxury of seeing their patients with HIV do so well. In developing countries and in areas with limited resources, many people are still dying and suffering from this disease.

We may have made a lot of strides in HIV treatment, but we are losing the battle when it comes to HIV prevention. Today there are 33 million people in the world living with HIV, over a million are Americans. Did you know that every 9 and a half minutes someone in the U.S. is infected with HIV? There is a lot of work to be done if we are to end the HIV epedemic. Many barriers and challenges to HIV prevention persist - ignorance, stigma, and discrimination - just to name a few. I ask you on this World AIDS Day to be a part of the solution - talk to your friends, families and colleagues. Pass on the message that the time has come to intensify our efforts to stop the HIV epedemic. Let everyone know that, in this country, every 9.5 minutes, someone is infected with HIV.

-Written by Maithe Enriquez, PhD, RN, ANP is Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at UMKC and Nurse Practitioner at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City.

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