According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 34 million people living with HIV. However, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), an unprecedented acceleration in the AIDS response is producing results for people. The report shows that a more than 50% reduction in the rate of new HIV infections has been achieved across 25 low- and middle-income countries--more than half in Africa, the region most affected by HIV. Despite the encouraging progress in stopping new HIV infections, the total number of new HIV infections remains high-2.5 million in 2011. The report outlines that to reduce new HIV infections globally combination HIV prevention services need to be brought to scale.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic in the African American community made its "debut" in the early 1980's and is entering its third decade as one of this country's most critical and challenging health issue. Among African Americans, HIV/AIDS has produced especially grave outcomes. According to the National Center for Health Statistics 2006 Report, HIV/AIDS is one of the top 10 leading causes of death for African Americans; and in the same year African Americans accounted for more than half (54 percent) of estimated new HIV infections in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that a quarter of those living with HIV, more than 250,000 do not know they are infected.
As statistics indicate, the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to ravage communities unchecked and there is much to do. The NMA has for decades been at the forefront of efforts to address this disease. We continue to partner with the CDC, and other federal and non-federal entities to develop and implement HIV/AIDS educational and awareness programs that are designed for both physicians and patients. Our Sexual History Taking Tool and our Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative are just two recent examples of our continued work to reduce the burden of this epidemic.
The NMA asks all their affiliates and partners to take part in some meaningful way such as the implementation of AIDS testing for all of their patients during the month of December. In addition, the U.S. Preventive Task Force recently announced its draft recommendations statement on November 20th which states that all people aged 15 to 65 including pregnant women be screened for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Early diagnosis is a critical step for everyone. Visit the World AIDS Campaign website to read more about World AIDS Day 2012, find events, learn the history of World AIDS Day, and get resources to coordinate your own World AIDS Day event. To find a HIV testing site near you, visit the HIVtest website or visit NMA HIV/AIDS website at www.nmanet.org.
HIV/AIDS is an epidemic that must be fought with massive, persistent effort on all fronts. It will take our collective will to continually reinforce key messages on HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatment, as well as the funding and resources to adequately put muscle behind the words. We cannot afford to do less.