Since 1987, December 1 is recognized globally as World AIDS Day, and December is AIDS Awareness Month in the United States. The purpose is to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and prevention.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- About 1.2 million persons in the United States are infected with HIV and one in five (about 240,000) does not know they are infected.
- There are 56,300 new HIV infections every year.
- 1/4th of all new infections are in women.
- AIDS is the leading cause of death for black women aged 25-34 years and the 6th leading cause of death among all women aged 15-34 years.
- 80% of all new HIV infections are transmitted through heterosexual sex.
- More than 1.1 million people are infected with HIV in the U.S.
Getting an HIV test can lead to getting the medical care needed to stay healthy longer. It is recommended that HIV screening become part of annual routine lab work for adolescents, adults, and pregnant women. Once you know your status it’s important to also know the status of your sex partner. Unless you are in a secure monogamous relationship and both of you have tested negative for HIV, condoms should be used for every sex act. HIV does not discriminate; you are never too young or too old to be at risk for HIV if you engage in risky behaviors (unprotected sex with someone who doesn’t know their HIV status). Prevention is the key to stopping this pandemic; I highly recommend HIV screening as part of your routine medical care.