by Dr. Gail Barouh
This year, in honor of World AIDS Day, I had the opportunity to speak to News 12 correspondent Lily Stolzberg about the role LIAAC plays helping members of the Long Island community who are affected by HIV and AIDS.
One important point that came up is that, while we’ve made incredible progress helping people lead more comfortable and longer lives with HIV, we’ve been unable to really crack the incidence of new cases of HIV each year. In spite of enormous efforts to teach prevention and safe sex, nearly 56,000 Americans are newly diagnosed with HIV or AIDS each year.
When I first began my work in AIDS prevention and care, I was sure those numbers were temporary and that AIDS would soon be eradicated, or nearly so. But here we are approaching 2012 and the number of new cases each year does not seem to be slowing down.
LIAAC also took part in a World AIDS Day event at Kennedy Park in Hempstead, with staffers there to hand out literature and educational materials, answer questions, and provide free HIV testing with our mobile vans. News 12 was among the members of the press covering that event as well.
The first World AIDS Day was marked on December 1, 1988 and this year’s theme was “Leading with Science, Uniting for Action.” The science of treatment has made great, exciting strides, allowing HIV to become, in many cases, a chronic disease and not the immediate death sentence it once was. So let’s make 2012 the year we renew our focus on the science of prevention as well so that we can take action to radically reduce the number of Americans who are diagnosed each year.