Increase Your AIDS “IQ” During World AIDS Month

In February, 1986, we may have read local newspapers with headlines such as, “Ryan White returns to school for the first time in 14 months, but 151 of 360 students stay home and seven transfer to other schools.” “Judge Alan Brubaker grants a restraining order in the afternoon to Concerned Citizens to keep Ryan out of school based on a 1949 Indiana Law that requires parents of children with a communicable disease to keep them at home.”

We’ve certainly come a long way since Ryan White’s life educated the world about HIV and AIDS. Annually, World AIDS Day is celebrated December 1st. If we choose, we can participate in a variety of ways throughout the year. Perhaps it’s through education and awareness, by giving a financial contribution to an organization, or walking in a local AIDS walk. In Indiana, these walks are typically held annually in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID):

  • Globally, 33.3 million people were living with HIV/AIDS in 2009.
  • More than 1 million people in the US are currently living with HIV/AIDS.
  • About 21% of those infected with HIV are unaware of their infection.
  • In the early 1980s when the HIV/AIDS epidemic began, people with AIDS were not likely to live longer than a few years. Today, there are 31 antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat HIV infection.
  • NIAID is conducting and supporting research to develop new strategies to prevent the spread of HIV. These strategies include vaccines and topical microbicides, such as gels, creams, and foams that can be applied prior to sexual intercourse. Another strategy is to provide antiretrovirals to people who are not infected with HIV but who are at high risk of getting HIV infection (called pre-exposure prophylaxis [PrEP]).

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

  • About 50,000 people are infected with HIV every year, and 1 in 4 are 13-24 years old.
  • The risk for HIV for most youth begins when they start having sex or injecting drugs.
    • HIV is spread primarily by not using a condom when having sex with a person who has HIV. Having multiple sex partners can increase the risk of transmission. Sharing needles and other equipment to prepare illicit drugs for infection is a risk factor.
  • About 60% of youth with HIV do not know they are infected.
  • Anyone can get tested for HIV. Contact 1-800-CDC-INFO or text your zip code to Knowit (566948) or go to for more information and testing locations.

To learn more, check out these online resources:

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