“December 1 is #WorldAIDSDay”

World AIDS Day is observed each year on Dec. 1, and 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of this important global health awareness day. World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people around the world to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV, and commemorate those who have lost their lives.

HIV is a virus that weakens a person’s immune system by destroying cells that fight disease and infection. While there is no cure for HIV, it can be successfully controlled with ongoing medical care and medication. When treated, many people living with HIV can lead long, healthy lives.

Fortunately, there are more tools than ever before to help prevent new HIV infections. For people living with HIV, achieving and maintaining viral suppression by taking HIV medication as prescribed greatly improves health outcomes. In addition to strategies like using condoms and avoiding needle sharing, when a potential exposure to HIV has already occurred, an emergency strategy called PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) can be started within 72 hours after the exposure to help prevent infection.

In addition, individuals who are at ongoing risk for getting HIV through sex or injection drug use can reduce their risk of contracting HIV by utilizing a tool called Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, which includes a prescription called Truvada once a day. Taking PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of becoming HIV positive by up to 92 percent. While PrEP and PEP can be used to prevent HIV, especially when used in conjunction with safe sex practices like condom use, neither protects against other STDs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.

Although great strides have been made with prevention and treatment, HIV remains a global, national, and local health threat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2017, there were approximately 36.9 million people living with HIV worldwide, and about 1.8 million people were newly infected with HIV - 38,739 of which were diagnosed in the United States. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, there were 12,635 people living with diagnosed HIV in Indiana as of the end of 2017; 5,148 of those people reside in Marion County.

Eskenazi Health strives to continuously meet the needs of the communities we serve in relation to HIV testing, prevention, and treatment. By providing routine HIV screening across our primary care sites and within the emergency department, offering PrEP and PEP services, and providing HIV medical care at 10 different locations, Eskenazi Health aims to play a key role in reducing new infections and supporting people living with HIV in Marion County. Please visit The Eskenazi Health Infectious Disease Clinic webpage at http://bit.ly/2KHL7PK   or call 317.880.3500 to learn more or to request an appointment.

While significant progress has been made in the fight against HIV, World AIDS Day is an important annual reminder that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to increase awareness, improve education, confront stigma, and support funding and research efforts. On this day, let us reflect on our accomplishments and focus on the future. Together, we can end new HIV infections.


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