World AIDS Day is Dec. 1 and each year it represents an opportunity for people around the world to unite in the fight against HIV. "Getting to Zero" is this year's ambitious theme. The theme, which will be used until 2015, seeks to rally the world around a simple vision: "Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, with approximately 50,000 Americans becoming infected with HIV each year. In the District of Columbia, the latest HIV/AIDS data indicates 3.2 percent of the city's population is currently living with HIV/AIDS.
The good news is in 2010, the District increased HIV testing, supporting 110,000 tests. The District also improved in connecting more than 75 percent of people into care and treatment within three months of their HIV diagnosis. Last week, Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced a new public-private partnership between the D.C. Department of Health (DOH), Department of Human Service (DHS) and Family and Medical Counseling Services, Inc. , supported by Gilead Sciences, Inc., to offer free HIV testing at the DHS Anacostia Service Center located in Southeast.
The District's response to HIV/AIDS is admirable, but as long as HIV/AIDS-related infections, discrimination and deaths continue, none of us can rest comfortably. Quite frankly, we're not at "zero" yet.