December 1st is World AIDS Day, the day when individuals and organizations from around the world come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic. While we have come a long ways since 1988, there is still much more to be done. Psychologists and other mental health professionals can and do play a big role in helping to curb the epidemic around the world.
According to the CDC:
- Nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. (an estimated 1,178,350 adults and adolescents), and one in five of those (20 percent) are unaware of their infections.
- Despite increases in the total number of people living with HIV in the U.S. in recent years, the annual number of new infections has remained relatively stable overall. However, HIV infections continue at far too high a level, with approximately 50,000 Americans becoming newly infected with HIV each year. That's one American every 9 1/2 minutes.
- More than 16,000 people with AIDS still die each year in the U.S.
There are three things you can do to make a difference.
1. Get the facts and share the facts.
HIV Basics, including information on HIV Prevention. Click on these links to educate yourself on the basics about HIV/AIDS, including information on how to protect yourself and others and how to stay healthy when living with HIV. Once you know more about HIV/AIDS, you're in the best position to educate your friends and family. Your voice can motivate and move them to action to protect themselves and others
Help fight stigma and spread education! Share this blog post on facebook, twitter, and other social media sites.
2. Get Tested.
Who should get tested? Everyone! According to the CDC, 1 in 5 people living with HIV don't know that they have it, and that rate is higher in youth. Knowing your HIV status is an important step in preventing the spread of HIV and getting early treatment to stay healthy. Talk with your friends and family about getting tested and protecting themselves. Click this link to find a cinic near you where you get free or low cost HIV testing. Send a text message with your zip code to 566948 (KNOW IT) and they will text you back with HIV testing sites near you.
3. Get Involved.
Everyone has a role in the fight against HIV/AIDS including you. The Act Against AIDS campaign suggests you visit these sites to search HIV/AIDS-related volunteer opportunities in your area.
The CDC has also made many of its campaign tools and materials available on-line. Partners and individuals can download brochures, badges, widgets, and other materials. View campaign materials
Dr. Mustanski is the Director of the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program . You can follow the Sexual Continuum blog by becoming a fan on Facebook.