World AIDS Day 2015: Time to act is now

     A red ribbon was displayed on the North Portico of the White House to recognize World Aids Day.

A red ribbon was displayed on the North Portico of the White House to recognize World Aids Day.

Tuesday was World AIDS Day, reminding us that the epidemic is not over. While treatment and prevention methods have improved greatly in recent years, they are not accessible to all.

Moreover, many people who have the virus are not aware of this fact, according to public health experts.

In conjunction with World AIDS Day, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy released the Federal Action Plan for 2016-20, which outlines specific federal agency actions to implement the updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy next year and through 2020. This Federal Action Plan, along with an updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and continued investments in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), underscores the Administration’s commitment to reaching an AIDS-free generation.

Globally, though prevention, treatment, and care have significantly improved, nearly 37 million people are living with HIV, including 1.2 million in the United States, with many who have not been diagnosed, are not in medical care, and are not virally suppressed. Despite scientific advances in HIV treatment for individual and public health benefits, and prevention options like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), many lack access to life-saving and life-enhancing services. Moving forward, President Obama and the Administration have committed to continue to build on scientific and technological advances to expand access to prevention options and care.

In remarks made from France, where the President is attending a global meeting on climate change, Obama said:

“We find ourselves closer to an AIDS-free generation than ever before. Together, through better education, and life-saving treatments, we’re committed to reducing new HIV infections and supporting people living with HIV across the globe. But our work to save lives and end HIV as a public health threat is not finished.

“We’ve also made progress fighting HIV/AIDS cross the globe. Through PEPFAR, and our partners, we are providing anti-retroviral treatment for more than nine million men, women, and children across the world.

“More than four times more than when I took office.

And over the next two years, we will increase the number of people undergoing life-saving treatment that our funding reaches to nearly 13 million. But while expanding treatment is an essential part of our response, ending the epidemic also requires a focus on prevention.

Especially when it comes to empowering our young women and girls to protect their own health, secure economic opportunity, and pursue their dreams.

“Today’s a day to celebrate the extraordinary progress we’ve made. It’s also a day to remember those we’ve lost, and commit ourselves to the world we still have to do. To all of you who have dedicated your lives to this cause, whether fighting this disease on the front lines, or advocating for better treatment and education for all our young people: Thank you.”

In Nashville there are an estimated 21,000 residents infected with HIV or Aids. Of those, approximately 1,400 individuals are not within a system of care.

Moreover, local public health experts estimate that an additional 700 individuals are not aware of their HIV infection. Nashville CARES offers confidential, rapid, oral testing at our offices. Testing is with a certified HIV counselor, and takes about in 20 minutes.

Walk-ins are welcome Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. They are located at 633 Thompson Lane, or you can call 1-800-845-4266.