World AIDS Day — December 1
The World Health Organization established World AIDS Day in 1988. World AIDS Day is an occasion to reflect about the 30 million people who have died from HIV/AIDS. It is a time to consider how to better care for the 34 million people living with HIV/AIDS. It is also a time to reach out to families, friends and loved ones who have been deeply affected by this pandemic.
The international theme selected by the World AIDS Campaign (WAC) for World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero: Zero New HIV Infections; Zero Discrimination; and Zero AIDS Related Deaths." This theme, that will be used until 2015, echoes the UNAIDS vision of achieving “Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths." In keeping with the theme, the United Nations has set ten goals for 2015:
- Sexual transmission of HIV reduced by half, including young people, men who have sex with men and transmission in the context of sex work;
- Vertical transmission of HIV eliminated and AIDS-related maternal deaths reduced by half;
- All new HIV infections prevented among people who use drugs;
- Universal access to antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV who are eligible for treatment;
- Tuberculosis deaths among people living with HIV reduced by half;
- All people living with HIV and households affected by HIV are addressed in all national social protection strategies and have access to essential care and support;
- Countries with punitive laws and practices around HIV transmission, sex work, drug use or homosexuality that block effective responses reduced by half;
- HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence eliminated in half of the countries that have such restrictions;
- HIV-specific needs of women and girls are addressed in at least half of all national HIV responses; and
- Zero tolerance for gender-based violence.
HIV in the United States
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than one million people are living with HIV in the United States. One in five (20 percent) of those people living with HIV is unaware of their infection. Despite increases in the total number of people living with HIV in the US in recent years, the annual number of new HIV infections has remained relatively stable. However, new infections continue at far too high a level, with an estimated 50,000 Americans becoming infected with HIV each year.
More than 18,000 people with AIDS still die each year in the U.S. Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are strongly affected and represent the majority of persons who have died. Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 600,000 people with AIDS in the U.S. have died and nearly 18,000 people with AIDS in the US die each year. (CDC, "HIV in the United States: At A Glance"; CDC, ""HIV in the United States: An Overview.")
HIV/AIDS Among Racial/Ethnic Groups in U.S.
Racial/ethnic groups face disparities and health inequities with regard to HIV. In part due to a number of social and economic challenges, such as lack of access to care, discrimination, stigma, homophobia and poverty, people of color have higher rates of HIV infection than whites.
According to CDC, African-Americans face the most severe burden of HIV/AIDS in the nation and Hispanics/Latinos are disproportionately impacted:
- While African-Americans represent approximately 14 percent of the US population, they account for almost half (44 percent) of people living with HIV in the US, as well as nearly half (44 percent) of new infections each year. HIV infections among African-Americans overall have been roughly stable since the early 1990s.
- Hispanics/Latinos represent 15 percent of the population but account for an estimated 17 percent of people living with HIV and 17 percent of new infections. HIV infections among Hispanics/Latinos overall have been roughly stable since the early 1990s.
African-Americans and Hispanics/Latinosare least likely to receive ongoing care and effective treatment.
By Race/Ethnicity: African-Americans are least likely to be in ongoing care or to have their virus under control.
Source: CDC (July 2012) CDC Factsheet HIV In U.S.: The Stages of Care (PDF, 672KB)
More info: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). CDC Fact Sheet: HIV and AIDS among African-Americans (PDF, 260KB)
Psychology's Fight Against HIV/AIDS
Significant advances in biomedical HIV research have been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS over the past few years which has accelerated the emergence of new biomedical HIV prevention options. However, evidence-based behavioral strategies which have been proven remain critical to achieving optimal prevention and treatment outcomes.
In February 2012, APA’s Council of Representatives adopted a resolution (PDF, 83KB) to bring attention to the importance of behavioral interventions and research in responding to the domestic and global HIV epidemics. On World AIDS Day 2012, APA takes this opportunity to emphasize the importance of psychology and its contribution to achieving an AIDS free generation. As APA strives to promote the application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives, we call for more research on behavioral factors such as people’s willingness to start and stick with treatment, medication adherence and decision-making, and the development of combination approaches that blend behavioral, biomedical and structural interventions. APA supports full funding for integration of HIV and mental health and substance services in both domestic and global AIDS portfolios. Psychology has contributed a great deal for over 30 years and will continue to play an important role in the future.
Watch APA Chief Executive Officer Norman B. Anderson, PhD talk about the importance of behavior in prevention and disease management.
What You Can Do
Find basic information about HIV/AIDS (e.g., how it is and is not transmitted, the risk factors for HIV transmission, preventing transmission and the symptoms of HIV infection).
The CDC now recommends routine HIV screening of adults, adolescents and pregnant women in healthcare settings in the United States. Find an HIV testing facility nearest to you and those you care about. You can also send a text message with your ZIP code to “KNOWIT” (566948) or visit HIVtest.org.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (June 2012) Today’s HIV/AIDS Epidemic (PDF, 2MB). http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/HIVFactSheets/TodaysEpidemic-508.pdf (PDF, 2MB)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (July 2012) CDC Factsheet HIV In U.S.: The Stages of Care (PDF, 372KB) http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/2012/Stages-of-CareFactSheet-508.pdf (PDF, 372KB)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). CDC Fact Sheet: HIV and AIDS among African Americans (PDF, 260KB) http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/FastFacts-AA-FINAL508COMP.pdf (PDF, 260KB)