World AIDS Day 2011

                Today is World AIDS Day and the internet is blowing up with stories about people impacted by HIV/AIDS, articles about how we can help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, calls to action to help people already infected and even lists of products that will help support HIV/AIDS research.  Though HIV/AIDS awareness should not be a once year a thing, it is always good to help increase exposure and to help educate people about the issue. Here are the highlights of what people are talking about:

                A few weeks ago Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a new initiative of PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015. This included $60 million in funding for HIV/AIDS groups worldwide. Today, President Obama committed an additional $50 million in funding for domestic HIV/AIDS groups. This includes $15 million to the Ryan White program which funds clinics and $35 million for state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. Between the two that’s $110 million extra funding to help eliminate HIV/AIDS. Way to go U.S. government!

                The Hill and The Huffington Post both address the importance of combating the social stigma against people with HIV/AIDS. They point out how important it is to remember HIV/AIDS is a disease affecting a person not a person’s entire identity. At The Huffington Post, the article is written by Elton John who expresses his hope that by continuing to support HIV/AIDS research and combating the stigma around HIV/AIDS and reminding those who have it that their lives are still valuable and worth living; his son will live to see a world free from HIV/AIDS. Even former President George W. Bush got in on the action writing an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal about the importance of continuing to fund HIV/AIDS research.

                As we pointed out last week, globally the rate of new HIV infections has been dropping as have AIDS related deaths. Clearly we are moving in the right direction. With that in mind it is important to not get ahead of ourselves and start thinking the “war” is over. Now more than ever it is important to remember that unless we continue to fund HIV/AIDS programs all that progress will be lost and a cure will never be found.

                Most importantly it is vitally important that you always, always remember to protect yourself. Use condoms with every new partner and get tested regularly. Early treatment is the most effective way to ensure HIV/AIDS has a minimal impact on your life and the lives of the people who care about you. Until everyone is able to and does take responsibility for their sexual health we will never really see HIV/AIDS eradicated. To find a testing center near you check here.  Find treatment centers and places for housing assistance here if you need it.

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