By Dr. Gail Barouh
July 2012 has been designated as National HIV Awareness Month. The goal of the month is to draw attention to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic by creating a national discourse and focusing public attention on the disease. Having a national awareness month is an attempt to end HIV stigma and discrimination, reigniting the fight against the disease with the ultimate goal of ending the epidemic.
Two significant events help commemorate this awareness month. The International AIDS Conference will take place in the United States for the first time in 20 years. Catherine Hart and I will be attending this conference, representing LIAAC and making a poster presentation. I will be going into more details on this in an upcoming blog posting. Also, July 2012 marks the second anniversary of the release of the United States’ first ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy by President Obama.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic is now over 30 years old in the United States and advances in medicine have allowed people with the disease to live longer, healthier and more normal lives. These facts have contributed in removing HIV/AIDS out of the public spotlight, creating a dangerous environment of complacency. Organizations like LIAAC and national awareness months like this one increase the chances of reaching and educating a broad swath of Americans who remain unaware of how the disease is spread, how to prevent it from being spread and the importance of knowing your status through testing. For more information on National HIV Awareness Month, go to http://www.nationalhivawarenessmonth.org/.