Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day
Around the globe people are thinking about how AIDS has affected us all: mourning for those we loved and lost, honoring those who struggle with illness and stigma and reflecting on how we can make things better.
The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “Getting to Zero.” Getting to Zero means zero AIDS-related deaths, zero new infections, and zero stigma against those who are infected.
Here in Knoxville, we have a lot to be thankful for. HIV/AIDS-related deaths have decreased 40 percent in the last five years due to great improvements in medication for those infected, and rigorous testing of pregnant women has prevented the infection of any infants over that same timeframe.
Despite these great strides, some things have not improved. People still make risky choices, and people still get infected. Last year in Knox County, 53 people learned they were infected with HIV. In addition, many people are infected but do not know it. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that for young people (age 15-24) 60 percent of those who are infected with HIV are unaware of their infection.
HIV testing has never been easier. Most insurance plans now cover the test with no co-pay. The Knox County Health Department offers HIV testing daily, no appointment necessary. HIV tests are even available at the drug store.
HIV is a human disease. It infects human beings of every age, race, creed and income level. Anyone who has ever had sex without a condom should get tested. Anyone who has ever shared needles for drug use should get tested. Testing could save your life.
In Knox County last year, 15 people died with HIV/AIDS. Let’s get that number down to zero.
Getting routine shots from your doctor is never fun, but getting HPV is worse.
Protect yourself by getting vaccinated. The HPV Vaccine is cancer prevention. Ask your doctor about what you can do to stay safe, or call 865-215-5000 to schedule a vaccination appointment at the Health Department.