World AIDS Day – December 1st

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988. Each year, organizations and individuals across the world bring attention to the HIV epidemic, endeavor to increase HIV awareness and knowledge, speak out against HIV stigma, and call for an increased response to move toward Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S.

Fast Facts:

  • Approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV. About 13 percent of them don’t know it and need testing.
  • HIV continues to have a disproportionate impact on certain populations, particularly racial and ethnic minorities and gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.
  • In 2019, an estimated 34,800 new HIV infections occurred in the United States. Heterosexual people made up 23% of all HIV diagnoses in the U.S. and 6 dependent areas in 2019. Heterosexual men accounted for 7% of new HIV diagnoses and heterosexual women accounted for 16%.
  • New HIV infections declined 8% from 37,800 in 2015 to 34,800 in 2019, after a period of general stability.
  • In 2019, 36,801 people received an HIV diagnosis in the U.S. and 6 dependent areas—an overall 9% decrease compared with 2015.
  • HIV diagnoses are not evenly distributed across states and regions. The highest rates of new diagnoses continue to occur in the South.
  • In 2019, the number of new HIV diagnoses was highest among people aged 25 to 29. From 2015 through 2019, HIV diagnoses increased among persons aged 13-24 years, 35-44 years, and 45-54 years. Diagnoses remained stable among persons aged 25-35 years and persons aged 55 years and over.
  • In 2019, there were 15,815 deaths among adults and adolescents with diagnosed HIV in the United States and 6 dependent areas. These deaths may be due to any cause.

“Today, thanks to improvements in the effectiveness of treatment with HIV medicine (called antiretroviral therapy or ART), people with HIV who are diagnosed early and who get and stay on ART can keep the virus suppressed and live long and healthy lives. For this reason, nearly half of people living with diagnosed HIV in the United States are aged 50 and older. Many of them have been living with HIV for many years; others were diagnosed with HIV later in life.

That’s a significant change from the early years of the epidemic when people who were diagnosed with HIV or AIDS could expect to live only 1-2 years after their diagnosis. This meant that the issues of aging were not a major focus for people with HIV disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2018, over half (51%) of people in the United States and dependent areas with diagnosed HIV were aged 50 and older. In addition, people aged 50 and older accounted for 17% of the 37,968 new HIV diagnoses in 2018 in the United States and dependent areas. Though new HIV diagnoses are declining among people aged 50 and older, around 1 in 6 HIV diagnoses in 2018 were in this group.”[1]

For more information on HIV and AIDS, visit Know the facts! Be a part of Ending the HIV Epidemic.

In a related UNAIDS Press Release and in the Prevailing Against Pandemics report (92 pages) from UNAIDS, there is an important statement:

“This year’s World AIDS Day feels very different. COVID-19 has magnified and worsened the deep inequalities that run through our societies. It has shown how intricately linked global health and the global economy are. Years of collective failure to invest sufficiently in comprehensive, rights-based, people-centered health care has left the world deeply exposed.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having far-reaching effects on health systems and other public services. In many countries, HIV services have been disrupted, and supply chains for key commodities have been stretched. Around the world fewer people are being diagnosed with HIV and fewer people living with HIV are starting HIV treatment.

As this report shows, the global HIV response was off track even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the collision of COVID-19 and HIV has sent it back further. The Fast-Track Targets, which expire at the end of this year, will not be achieved. Thirty-eight million people are living with HIV, with more than 12 million people waiting for life-saving HIV treatment. In 2019, 1.7 million people were newly infected with HIV and 690 000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses.

Investments in HIV and the lessons from how communities have responded to HIV have strengthened the fight against COVID-19. Over the past year, HIV activists and communities have mobilized to defend the gains in the AIDS response, to protect people living with HIV and other vulnerable groups and to push the coronavirus back. They have campaigned for multi-month dispensing of HIV treatment, organized home deliveries of medicines and provided financial assistance, food and shelter to at-risk groups.

Had health systems and social safety nets been stronger, the world would have been better placed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and withstand its impact. We must learn from the mistakes of the past—the legacy of the fight against COVID-19 must be accelerated action to make universal health coverage a global reality. And there is hope. Promising COVID-19 vaccines are emerging. But we must ensure that these new vaccines are not the privilege of the rich. That is why UNAIDS and partners are calling for a People’s Vaccine—one that everyone can access, wherever they live, free of charge.

Ending AIDS means closing gaps and ensuring that no one is left behind. The HIV response is fundamentally about inequality—to end AIDS, we must end inequality. If over the next five years we meet these new targets, end inequalities in HIV treatment and HIV prevention and reduce the stigma and discrimination that holds back the HIV response, the world will be well on its way to ending AIDS by 2030.

No country can defeat the colliding pandemics of HIV and COVID-19 on its own. Such global challenges can only be defeated through global solidarity and shared responsibility. This requires us to be bold, to build on our successes and to learn from our setbacks. It is also our opportunity to re-imagine and build a better future. One where health is no longer a privilege, but a human right, for each and every one of us. One where we are back on track to end the inequalities and injustices that continue to fuel the AIDS epidemic.”

Today, the White House issued this Fact Sheet and Statement marking World AIDS Day 2021 With Renewed Commitments to Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic by 2030.  I encourage you to read this document as well. We all have a stake in ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic.