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CDC Facts and Figures: AIDS/HIV Epidemic

HIV and AIDS remain a persistent problem for the United States and countries around the world. While great progress has been made in preventing and treating HIV, there is still much to do.

In 2018, 37,832 people received an HIV diagnosis in the United States and its territories. The annual number of new diagnoses decreased 9% from 2010 to 2016 in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

An estimated 1.1 million people in the United States (and Washington DC) had HIV at the end of 2016, the most recent year for which this information is available. Of those people, about 14%, or 1 in 7, did not know they had HIV.


From 2012 to 2016, HIV diagnoses remained stable in the US, although some decreases were seen in regions with fewer diagnoses.

--US territories: Decreased 27%
--Northeast: Decreased 17%
--Midwest: Decreased 6%
--South: Remained stable
--West: Remained stable



Today, AIDS is fairly well controlled – in developed countries anyway. But the virus, which actually has been infecting humans since at least 1959, and perhaps since the late 1940s, according to the AIDS Institute, is still very much around.

Statistics compiled from a variety of sources by AMFAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, paint an important picture of HIV/AIDS’s global and U.S. reach – showing where progress has been made, as well as where infections continue to rise.

AmFAR’s statistics are from 2017, its most recent fully-compiled data. It shows that in 2017, worldwide:

--36.9 million people were living with HIV
--1.8 million people became newly infected with HIV

Since the beginning of the pandemic in 1981, 77.3 million people have contracted HIV and 35.4 million have died of AIDS-related illnesses.

The good news here is that annual new infections have declined by 18% since 2010. However, AMFAR notes that this pace is “far too slow” to reach the United Nations’ Fast-Track Target of fewer than 500,000 new infections per year by 2020. And in about 50 countries, new HIV infections are actually increasing.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report published January 2019, "Sub-Saharan Africa, with more than two-thirds of all people living with HIV globally, is the hardest hit region in the world, followed by Central Asia and the Pacific. The Caribbean as well as Eastern Europe and Central Asia are also heavily affected."

However, new HIV infections are increasing the fastest in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to AMFAR: "Between 2010 and 2018, new HIV infections increased 29%, with the Russian Federation and Ukraine accounting for 84% of all new infections."

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS notes that "Despite the availability of this widening array of effective HIV prevention tools and methods and a massive scale-up of HIV treatment in recent years, new infections among adults globally have not decreased sufficiently."

CDC Fact Sheet: AIDS/HIV in the United States

CDC Fact Sheet: AIDS/HIV in the US by Region

AIDS/HIV Infection: Government Statistics

The Body: AIDS/HIV Resource

World Health Organization: AIDS/HIV Data and Statistics

UN AIDS: Global AIDS/HIV Statistics

US News & World Report: Current AIDS/HIV Statistics

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World AIDS Day

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2016 Was a Banner Year for AIDS/HIV Research

PBS Video: PrEP and HIV

Visibility Matters: Coming Out HIV Positive

What is World AIDS Day?

Questions About HIV You've Been Afraid to Ask

Video: How Do You Know If You Have AIDS

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Video Explanation: What is HIV?




New HIV infections (HIV incidence) refers to the estimated number of people who are newly infected with HIV during a year, which is different from the number of people diagnosed with HIV during a year. (Some people may have HIV for some time but not know it, so the year they are diagnosed may not be the same as the year they acquired HIV.)

According to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Approximately 38,700 new HIV infections occurred in the United States in 2016. After about 5 years of substantial declines, the number of annual HIV infections began to level off in 2013, at about 39,000 infections per year.

CDC estimates that the decline in HIV infections has plateaued because effective HIV prevention and treatment are not adequately reaching those who could most benefit from them. These gaps remain particularly troublesome in rural areas and in the South and among disproportionately affected populations like African-Americans and Latinos.



HIV diagnoses refers to the number of people who have received an HIV diagnosis during a year, regardless of when they acquired HIV. (Some people can live with HIV for years before they are diagnosed; others are diagnosed soon after infection.)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

In 2018, 37,832 people received an HIV diagnosis in the United States and 6 dependent areas. The annual number of new diagnoses decreased 11% from 2010 to 2017 among adults and adolescents in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, trends varied for different groups of people.


HIV continues to be a major global public health issue. In 2018 an estimated 37.9 million people were living with HIV (including 1.7 million children), with a global HIV prevalence of 0.8% among adults. Around 21% of these same people do not know that they have the virus.

Since the start of the epidemic, an estimated 74.9 million people have become infected with HIV and 32 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses. In 2018, 770,000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses. This number has reduced by more than 55% since the peak of 1.7 million in 2004 and 1.4 million in 2010.

The vast majority of people living with HIV are located in low- and middle- income countries, with an estimated 68% living in sub-Saharan Africa. Among this group 20.6 million are living in East and Southern Africa which saw 800,000 new HIV infections in 2018.


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CDC Fact Sheet: AIDS/HIV in the United States

CDC Fact Sheet: AIDS/HIV in the US by Region

The Body: AIDS/HIV Resource

Common Threads: Stories From the AIDS Quilt

Remembering AIDS Activist Larry Kramer

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Groundbreaking Documentaries About AIDS/HIV

Living With HIV

HIV Rates in the Latinx Community: Why So High?

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Begin HIV Treatment
Video Explanation: Living With HIV

Govt Report: World AIDS Day

Info: Safe Sex



AIDS/HIV Terms and Slang


AIDS - Acronym for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome

HIV - Acronym for Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome

Poz - Slang term to refer to a person who is HIV positive

Poz Friendly - HIV negative person who is willing to have sex with an HIV positive person

Poz Party - Events at which HIV-positive gay men can select sexual partners of the same HIV status

Sero - Prefix referring to blood

Serosorting - Practice of using HIV status as a decision-making point in choosing sexual behavior (Serodiscrimination)

Serodiscordant - Relationship in which one partner is infected by HIV and the other is not (mixed-status couple)

Seroconcordant - Relationship in which both partners are of the same HIV status

Magnetic Couple - Mixed status couple (serodiscordant)

PrEP - Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, HIV preventative medicine

PEP - Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, HIV preventative medicine

GPS - Gay Poz Sex, HIV prevention intervention (therapy) for HIV-positive gay and bisexual men

TasP - Treatment as Prevention, HIV risk-reduction strategy


PrEP Effective for Serodiscordant Couples

HIV Risks for Mixed Status Couples

Undergoing an HIV Test

HIV Treatment as Prevention

Thriving in a Serodiscordant Relationship


Basic Info: AIDS/HIV Facts


Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome, more commonly known as HIV, is a virus that, if left untreated, slowly damages the body's immune system. Without a strong, healthy immune system, the body becomes susceptible to many infections and illnesses. If a person living with HIV becomes sick with one of the more serious types of these infections, they are said to have Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS. While there is no cure for HIV or AIDS, people are living long productive lives, thanks to HIV medicines and aggressive treatment programs.



How HIV is Transmitted


Contrary to public perception, you can't get HIV infected by drinking from a water fountain, sitting on a toilet seat, hugging or touching an HIV infected person, or by eating off plates and utensils.


The following are ways HIV can be transmitted from one person to another:


--By way of bodily fluids (blood, semen, vaginal secretions) during sexual contact. Saliva is not considered a transmission route for HIV.

--By sharing needles to inject drugs. Infected blood can be exchanged between the parties who are using the same needle and syringe.

--By accidental needle sticks (needles contaminated with HIV infected blood). 

--Through the transfusion of infected blood or blood products (because of new and improved blood screening tools, this has rarely occurred since 1992).

--HIV infected woman can pass HIV to their babies while pregnant, during delivery, or when breast feeding.



HIV Signs and Symptoms


Often people who are HIV infected have few or no symptoms. Other times, symptoms of HIV are confused with other illnesses such as the flu. If a person were to have symptoms they would include:


--Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, groin or under the arms


--Unexplained weight loss


--Fever, chills or sweats (especially at night)

--Visual changes

--Frequent pneumonias or shortness of breath


--Flu-like symptoms




How to Prevent HIV Infection


--Speak openly with partners about safer sex techniques and HIV status. 

--If you don't know your status, get an HIV test to protect yourself and others. 

--Get tested with your partner as a way of saying "you care and want both of you to stay healthy."

--Use a latex condom with each oral, anal or vaginal sexual encounter. Those with latex allergies should use latex-free condoms.

--Do not share needles or syringes if you inject drugs. If you do inject drugs, seek professional help to kick your habit.

--HIV infected pregnant women should get into regular prenatal, intrapartum and postpartum care.

--HIV infected women should not breast feed.


[Source:  Mark Cichocki]


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YouTube Channel: Healthy Sexual



Dancer Rudolph Nureyev


The heartbreaking letter to dance that Nureyev wrote while dying of AIDS in 1993:

It was the smell of my skin changing, it was getting ready before class, it was running away from school and after working in the fields with my dad because we were ten brothers, walking those two kilometers to dance school.

I would never have been a dancer, I couldn't afford this dream, but I was there, with my shoes worn on my feet, with my body opening to music, with the breath making me above the clouds. It was the sense I gave to my being, it was standing there and making my muscles words and poetry, it was the wind in my arms, it was the other guys like me that were there and maybe wouldn't be dancers, but we swapped the sweat, silences, barely. For thirteen years I studied and worked, no auditions, nothing, because I needed my arms to work in the fields. But I didn't care: I learned to dance and dance because it was impossible for me not to do it, it was impossible for me to think I was elsewhere, not to feel the earth transforming under my feet plants, impossible not to get lost in music, impossible not not to get lost in music using my eyes to look in the mirror, to try new steps. Everyday I woke up thinking about the moment I would put my feet inside my slippers and do everything by tasting that moment. And when I was there, with the smell of camphor, wood, tights, I was an eagle on the rooftop of the world, I was the poet among poets, I was everywhere and I was everything.


I remember a ballerina El èna Vadislowa, rich family, well taken care of, beautiful. She wanted to dance like me, but later I realized it wasn't like that. She danced for all the auditions, for the end of the course show, for the teachers watching her, to pay tribute to her beauty. Two years prepared for the Djenko contest. The expectations were all about her. Two years he sacrificed part of his life. He didn't win the contest. She stopped dancing, forever. He didn't resist. That was the difference between me and her. I used to dance because it was my creed, my need, my words that I didn't speak, my struggle, my poverty, my crying. I used to dance because only there my being broke the limits of my social condition, my shyness, my shame. I used to dance and I was with the universe on my hands, and while I was at school, I was studying, arraising the fields at six am, my mind endured because it was drunk with my body capturing the air.

I was poor, and they paraded in front of me guys performing for pageants, they had new clothes, they made trips. I didn't suffer from it, my suffering would have been stopping me from entering the hall and feeling my sweat coming out of the pores of my face. My suffering would have been not being there, not being there, surrounded by that poetry that only the sublimation of art can give. I was a painter, poet, sculptor.

The first dancer of the year-end show got hurt. I was the only one who knew every move because I sucked, quietly every step. They made me wear his new, shiny clothes and dictated me after thirteen years, the responsibility to demonstrate. Nothing was different in those moments I danced on stage, I was like in the hall with my clothes off. I was and I used to perform, but it was dancing that I cared. The applause reached me far away. Behind the scenes, all I wanted was to take off that uncomfortable tights, but everyone's compliments came to me and I had to wait. My sleep wasn't different from other nights. I had danced and whoever was watching me was just a cloud far away on the horizon. From that moment my life changed, but not my passion and need to dance. I kept helping my dad in the fields even though my name was on everyone's mouth. I became one of the brightest stars in dance.


Now I know I'm going to die, because this disease doesn't forgive, and my body is trapped in a pram, blood doesn't circulate, I lose weight. But the only thing that goes with me is my dance my freedom to be. I'm here, but I dance with my mind, fly beyond my words and my pain. I dance my being with the wealth I know I have and will follow me everywhere: that I have given myself the chance to exist above effort and have learned that if you experience tiredness and effort dancing, what if you dance sits for effort, if we pity our bleeding feet, if we chase only the aim and don't understand the full and unique pleasure of moving, we don't understand the deep essence of life, where the meaning is in its becoming and not in appearing. Every man should dance, for life. Not being a dancer, but dancing.

Who will never know the pleasure of walking into a hall with wooden bars and mirrors, who stops because they don't get results, who always needs stimulus to love or live, hasn't stepped into the depths of life, and will abandon every time life won't give him what he wants. It's the law of love: you love because you feel the need to do it, not to get something or to be reciprocated, otherwise you're bound to unhappiness. I'm dying, and I thank God for giving me a body to dance so that I wouldn't waste a moment of the wonderful gift of life.


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Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis


Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a way for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of getting it to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. The pill (brand name Truvada) contains two medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine) that are used in combination with other medicines to treat HIV. When someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection.

When taken consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92%. PrEP is much less effective if it is not taken consistently.

PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention tool and can be combined with condoms and other prevention methods to provide even greater protection than when used alone. But people who use PrEP must commit to taking the drug every day and seeing their health care provider for follow-up every 3 months.


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CDC: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis

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Descovy for PrEP
US Dept of Health & Human Services: Reducing Risk With PrEP



AZT: Treatment for AIDS/HIV


Today, if someone is diagnosed with HIV, he or she can choose among 41 drugs that can treat the disease. And there’s a good chance that with the right combination, given at the right time, the drugs can keep HIV levels so low that the person never gets sick.

That wasn’t always the case. It took seven years after HIV was first discovered before the first drug to fight it was approved by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). In those first anxious years of the epidemic, millions were infected. Only a few thousand had died at that point, but public health officials were racing to keep that death rate from spiking — the inevitable result if people who tested positive weren’t treated with something.

As it turned out, their first weapon against HIV wasn’t a new compound scientists had to develop from scratch — it was one that was already on the shelf, albeit abandoned. AZT, or azidothymidine, was originally developed in the 1960s by a US researcher as way to thwart cancer; the compound was supposed to insert itself into the DNA of a cancer cell and mess with its ability to replicate and produce more tumor cells. But it didn’t work when it was tested in mice and was put aside.

Two decades later, after AIDS emerged as new infectious disease, the pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome, already known for its antiviral drugs, began a massive test of potential anti-HIV agents, hoping to find anything that might work against this new viral foe. Among the things tested was something called Compound S, a re-made version of the original AZT. When it was throw into a dish with animal cells infected with HIV, it seemed to block the virus’ activity.


The company sent samples to the FDA and the National Cancer Institute, where Dr. Samuel Broder, who headed the agency, realized the significance of the discovery. But simply having a compound that could work against HIV wasn’t enough. In order to make it available to the estimated millions who were infected, researchers had to be sure that it was safe and that it would indeed stop HIV in some way, even if it didn’t cure people of their infection. At the time, such tests, overseen by the FDA, took eight to 10 years.

Scientists quickly injected AZT into patients. The first goal was to see whether it was safe — and, though it did cause side effects (including severe intestinal problems, damage to the immune system, nausea, vomiting and headaches) it was deemed relatively safe. But they also had to test the compound’s effectiveness. In order to do so, a controversial trial was launched with nearly 300 people who had been diagnosed with AIDS. The plan was to randomly assign the participants to take capsules of the agent or a sugar pill for six months. Neither the doctor nor the patient would know whether they were on the drug or not.

After 16 weeks, Burroughs Wellcome announced that they were stopping the trial because there was strong evidence that the compound appeared to be working. One group had only one death. Even in that short period, the other group had 19. The company reasoned that it wouldn’t be ethical to continue the trial and deprive one group of a potentially life-saving treatment.

Those results — and AZT — were heralded as a “breakthrough” and “the light at the end of the tunnel” by the company, and pushed the FDA approve the first AIDS medication on March 19, 1987, in a record 20 months.


[Source: Alice Park, Time Magazine, March 2017]


AZT: Story Behind the First AIDS Drug

Zidovudine: AZT Explained

Brief History of AZT: HIV's First Ray of Hope



Coping With AIDS/HIV


The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection. New infections continue at a high level, with approximately 50,000 Americans becoming infected with HIV each year.


In this article we will discuss taking control of life.  If you, or your friend/partner, has begun to learn to live with HIV, then you may have realized that in spite of an inescapable infection and the inevitable accompanying emotions, you’re in charge.  Three ways you can help yourself or your friend/partner begin taking control of life include dividing and conquering, positive denial, and maintaining equilibrium.



Dividing and Conquering


First, let’s discuss dividing and conquering.  Dan, age 27, had stated, “My life is over. Having HIV is just too much for me to handle.”  However, Dan began to cut his overwhelming and insoluble problems into manageable, solvable parts by dividing and conquering.  There are steps you can take to divide and conquer.  First, Dan had divided his problems into those that had solutions and those that did not.  Next, he focused on the problems that had solutions and accepted those that did not.


For example, Dan had been worrying about how his family would deal with his death.  But, there is no way to solve the problem that your death will cause problems for your family.  Perhaps you can solve some of the problems actually caused by your death. Can you think of anything you can do now to make your passing easier? 


In addition to dividing problems into those which have solutions and those that do not have solutions, and focusing on the problems with solutions and accepting those that do not, the third step to dividing and conquering is for you or your friend/partner to begin to implement solutions.  Dan acknowledged this and stated, “You know, I’m a real junk collector.  I should probably get rid of all the stuff that I have so my family doesn’t have to deal with it when I’m gone.” 


Another HIV victim, Stephanie, viewed the divide and conquer technique as a way to escape the ‘big picture.’  Stephanie, age 33, stated, “I just solve little problems, one at a time.  You’d be surprised, but they add up.  So I’ve just focused on making each day better, and, before you know it, I had a few good years.” 



US HHS: AIDS Information

AVERT: AIDS Information and Education

AIDS United

AMFAR: Foundation for AIDS Research

SIECUS: PREP Education


Positive Denial


Second, let’s examine positive denial. Aaron’s HIV had progressed rapidly due to genital herpes.  At first, Aaron stated, “That sounds like an oxymoron, like you want me to avoid facing the facts,” regarding positive denial. However, whether denial is positive or negative depends on what you are denying.  Denial is negative if you deny your infection and live inappropriately by putting yourself or others at greater risk.  Denial that admits both the realities of today and the unpredictability of tomorrow can be positive.


For example, if you are preoccupied with uncertainty about the future or death, but need a new car, you can use positive denial to deny doubt regarding the future and perhaps purchase a new car on a finance plan.  Aaron later stated, “You really do have to deny some of this stuff.  It still makes me sad to think about death, but death hasn’t happened yet, so I need to live while I can.”



Maintaining Equilibrium


In addition to dividing and conquering and positive denial, a third way you might begin taking control of your life is by maintaining equilibrium. As you know, living with an HIV infection requires balancing hope and uncertainty. Robert stated, “The balance is tricky. I think the best way to manage it is to reduce stress.” 


Dan, who divided and conquered the problem of how his death would affect his family, stated, “The best way to maintain equilibrium is to adhere to the medication.”  Dan had used a simple five step technique to assess his ability to adhere to medication treatment before beginning.  Dan stated, “First, I got a thirty day supply of once-a-day vitamins.  Then, I marked my start date and, thirty days later, my end date on a calendar.  I decided it might help, so I also wrote the beginning and end dates on the vitamin bottle.”  


Dan then began taking the vitamins once a day.  After thirty days, Dan reached his end date and checked the bottle to see how many vitamins were left over.  Dan evaluated himself on his adherence using a percentage scale.  Dan later stated, “By knowing where I stood on adherence ahead of time, I think I was better prepared when I got going on the real medication.”


We have discussed taking control of life.  Three ways you can begin taking control of your life includes dividing and conquering, positive denial, and maintaining equilibrium.  


[Source: Tracy Appleton, LCSW, Director, Continuing Education, Healthcare Training Institute]



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AIDS/HIV Info: History and Statistics


AIDS was first identified in the US in 1981. The epidemic has now spread to every part of the US and to all sectors of society. It is thought that more than one million people are living with HIV in the US and that more than half a million have died after developing AIDS.


American HIV surveillance data are not comprehensive so many statistics must be based on reports of AIDS diagnoses. In interpreting such AIDS statistics, it is important to remember that they do not correspond to new HIV infections. Most people live with HIV for several years before developing AIDS.



People Living With AIDS


At the end of 2004, the CDC estimates that 415,193 people were living with AIDS in the USA.  Of these…


--35% were white

--43% were black

--20% were Hispanic

--1% were of other race/ethnicity


Of the adults and adolescents with AIDS, 77% were men. Of these men…


--58% were men who had sex with men (MSM)

--21% were injection drug users (IDU)

--11% were exposed through heterosexual contact

--8% were both MSM and IDU


Of the 93,566 adult and adolescent women with AIDS…


--64% were exposed through heterosexual contact

--34% were exposed through injection drug use.


An estimated 3,927 children were living with AIDS at the end of 2004, of whom 97% probably acquired the infection from their mothers.


People with AIDS are surviving longer and are contributing to a steady increase in the number of people living with AIDS. This trend will continue as long as the number of new diagnoses exceeds the number of people dying each year.



AIDS Diagnoses and Deaths


In June 1981, the first cases of what is now known as AIDS were reported in the USA. During the 1980s, there were rapid increases in the number of AIDS cases and deaths of people with AIDS. Cases peaked with the 1993 expansion of the case definition, and then declined. The most dramatic drops in both cases and deaths began in 1996, with the widespread use of combination antiretroviral therapy.


The rate of decrease in AIDS diagnoses slowed in the late 1990s. After reaching a plateau, the number of diagnoses increased slightly each year from 2001 to 2004. There were an estimated 42,514 diagnoses in 2004. In total, an estimated 944,306 people have been diagnosed with AIDS.


The number of deaths among people with AIDS remained relatively stable in the period 1999-2003, before dropping slightly to an estimated 15,798 deaths in 2004. Since the beginning of the epidemic, an estimated 529,113 people with AIDS have died in the US.


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Who is Affected by AIDS?


During the 1990s, the epidemic shifted steadily toward a growing proportion of AIDS cases among black people and Hispanics and in women, and toward a decreasing proportion in MSM, although this group remains the largest single exposure group. Black people and Hispanics have been disproportionately affected since the early years of the epidemic. In absolute numbers, blacks have outnumbered whites in new AIDS diagnoses and deaths since 1996, and in the number of people living with AIDS since 1998.




From 2000 to 2004, the estimated number of new AIDS cases increased in all racial/ethnic groups. Over the same period, the estimated number of new AIDS diagnoses increased by 10% among women and by 7% among men. The number of new cases probably due to heterosexual contact grew by 20%, and the number probably due to sex between men grew by 15%, but the number among injecting drug users fell by 12%.


During 2004 there were an estimated 48 pediatric AIDS diagnoses, compared to 190 in 1999 and 823 in 1994. The decline in pediatric AIDS incidence is associated with more HIV testing of pregnant women and the use of zidovudine (AZT) by HIV-infected pregnant women and their newborn infants.


The age group 35-44 years accounted for 39% of all AIDS cases diagnosed in 2004. Nearly three-quarters of all people who have died with AIDS did not live to the age of 45.


[Source: Avert]


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AIDS Memorial Quilt


The AIDS Memorial Quilt is an enormous memorial to celebrate the lives of people who have died of AIDS-related causes. Weighing an estimated 54 tons, it is the largest piece of community folk art in the world.


The Quilt is a memorial to and celebration of the lives of people lost to the AIDS pandemic which marks it as a prominent forerunner of the twentieth century shift in memorial design that moved towards celebrating victims or survivors. Each panel is 3 feet by 6 feet, approximately the size of the average grave, connecting the ideas of AIDS and death more closely.


The idea for the Memorial Quilt was conceived on November 27, 1985 by AIDS activist Cleve Jones during the annual candlelight march, in remembrance of the 1978 assassinations of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. For the march, Jones had people write the names of loved ones that were lost to AIDS-related causes on signs, and then they taped the signs to the old San Francisco Federal Building. All the signs taped to the building looked like an enormous patchwork quilt to Jones, and he was inspired.


The AIDS Memorial Quilt Project officially started in 1987 in San Francisco by Jones, Mike Smith, and volunteers Joseph Durant, Jack Caster, Gert McMullin, Ron Cordova, Larkin Mayo, Steve Kirchner, and Gary Yuschalk. At that time many people who died of AIDS-related causes did not receive funerals, due to both the social stigma of AIDS felt by surviving family members and the outright refusal by many funeral homes and cemeteries to handle the deceased's remains. Lacking a memorial service or grave site, The Quilt was often the only opportunity survivors had to remember and celebrate their loved ones' lives.


The first showing of The Quilt was 1987 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The Quilt was last displayed in full on the Mall in Washington, DC, in 1996, a display that included a visit by President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, but it returned in July 2012 to coincide with the start of the XIX International AIDS Conference, 2012.

National AIDS Memorial: AIDS Memorial Quilt

AIDS Memorial Quilt Project: Background and History

Philadelphia: Movie About AIDS

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Day in the Life of the AIDS Quilt

AIDS Quilt: Making America Pay Attention

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NPR: AIDS Quilt Returning to its San Francisco Home

Common Threads: Stories From the AIDS Quilt


AIDS Education


On December 1, World AIDS Day 2005, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US (SIECUS) reaffirms our commitment to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic both in the US and worldwide. In observance of this year's theme, Stop AIDS - Keep the Promise, SIECUS will continue to promote the importance of comprehensive, medically accurate sexuality education as the mainstay in HIV prevention.




"To keep the promise of a world free of AIDS, both here in the US and worldwide, we must recognize young people's right to healthy sexuality. This includes the right to comprehensive sexuality information and education," said Joseph DiNorcia, Jr., president and CEO of SIECUS.  "HIV prevention does not exist in a vacuum, and young people require a wide range of services and support. Without honest and complete education, other interventions to keep our youth HIV-free are meaningless," DiNorcia continued.


This generation of young people has not known a world without AIDS. For too many young people, AIDS is not an abstraction-it has touched their lives. Often AIDS has taken a gruesome toll on their communities and families, and many young people, especially in the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, are coming of age as HIV-positive people. Young people ages 15-24 account for half of all the new cases of HIV worldwide. Every minute, five young people worldwide become infected with HIV. This figure represents over 7,000 young people each day. Yet only 20% of people worldwide who need prevention services have access to them.




"Young people can and must be part of solving the HIV/AIDS crisis. Providing them with accurate and complete information about their sexual health not only serves to protect their health and safety, but also creates the next generation of informed educators and community leaders," said DiNorcia.


US support for global HIV-prevention programs, however, seems geared to keeping young people in the dark rather than empowering them to make informed choices about relationships, sex, and their futures. The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the guiding policy for global HIV/AIDS funding, offers no policy support or funding for comprehensive HIV-prevention programs. Instead, PEPFAR will provide not less than $133 million annually to abstinence-until-marriage programs in each of 15 "focus countries" in Africa and the Caribbean, as well as Vietnam , totaling at least $665 million over five years. Research on the effectiveness of such programs in the US has been inconclusive at best and at worst has shown potential harm to the sexual health of young people.


"While the commitment of the United States government in stemming the tide of HIV/AIDS is laudable, the great potential of this initiative is being lost because the politics and ideology of the Bush Administration are trumping public health needs," said DiNorcia. "We cannot keep young people in the dark if we expect to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in any meaningful way," DiNorcia continued.


[Source: SIECUS]



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