About 37 million people worldwide are currently living with HIV. And more than 1 million people died from AIDS-related causes in 2016. Upwards of 88 million people have become infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic. And worldwide, another 1.8 million people became infected in 2016.
These numbers are scary — but they hide an incontrovertible truth: Life expectancies for people with HIV and AIDS continue to increase. In fact, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 48 percent since their peak in 2005. Increased education and awareness, early detection, new treatments and improved health care all point to a continuing increase in life expectancy for those diagnosed with AIDS. And in honor of AIDS Awareness Month in October, we’d like to do our part to add to that body of knowledge.
AIDS Awareness Month - History
AIDS remains a problem in America
About 1.2 million people are living with AIDS in the United States — of whom 15% are unaware of their infection.
AZT earns approval
Azidothymidine, known asAZT, is the first drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of AIDS.
June 5, 1981
The beginning is pinpointed
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes a report describing a rare lung infection afflicting five young gay men in Los Angeles. As reported in HIV.gov, "All the men have other unusual infections as well, indicating that their immune systems are not working; two have already died by the time the report is published."
Kinshasa's the perfect storm
As reported in SmithsonianMag.com, "Some time around 1920, a person carried a virus from Cameroon toward the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The virus was a strain of HIV, and the city — then called Leopoldville and, now, Kinshasa — provided the perfect storm of conditions to ignite the AIDS epidemic."
How to Observe AIDS Awareness Month
There are plenty AIDS-related charities that could use either your donated time or money — perhaps both! Look into some of them and ask how you can be of assistance.
2. Wear red
A red ribbon, especially, is a nearly universal way to express support for people who have been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS.
3. Get tested
A surefire way to make sure you are healthy and unable to pass the disease onto others.
3 Sobering Facts About HIV/AIDS
1. AIDS is still a killer
About 2 million people, including 250,000 children, die every year due to HIV infections.
2. TB tops the fatality list
Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV; about 1 in 3 AIDS-related deaths are due to TB.
3. There's a need for big money
UNAIDS estimates that "$26.2 billion will be required for the AIDS response in 2020 in low- and middle-income countries, with $23.9 billion required in 2030."
4. So many remain undiagnosed
Some reports say that 1 in 7 Americans are unaware that they have the HIV virus.
5. America pays the most to fight AIDS
Still, the US accounts for almost 40,000 new infections each year.
Why AIDS Awareness Month is Important
A. These are our friends and family members
Chances are you know someone who has been diagnosed. Observing AIDS Awareness Month is a good way to educate ourselves so that we can offer support to our loved ones.
B. There is no cure
It's important to keep the distinction between HIV and AIDS in mind. And while those with HIV can seek treatment to support their immune system, there is no cure for AIDS. So AIDS Awareness Month is a good way to spread awareness.
C. It helps ensure equal treatment
While there have been many advances in the treatment of AIDS, there is still a very strong stigma against people dealing with the disease, leading to unequal treatment for patients, depending on social status and where they live.