New Jersey commemorates World AIDS Day on December 1st with events across the state that celebrate advances in treatment and prevention that allow people to live longer, healthier lives; pay tribute to those living with HIV/AIDS; and remember those who have died.
Currently, more than 37,900 people are currently living with HIV or AIDS in New Jersey. Since the beginning of the epidemic in 1981, more than 75,000 New Jerseyans have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and approximately half of these individuals have died.
This year's theme for World AIDS Day is, "Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation." Hospitals, county colleges and AIDS service organizations are hosting health fairs, AIDS Quilt displays, HIV testing clinics and other events around the state. Deputy Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito will speak at the Greater Mt. Zion AME Church in Trenton for an event hosted by the Mercer County HIV/AIDS Collaborative and staff from the Division of HIV, STD and TB Services will attend a health fair in Mays Landing sponsored by the South Jersey AIDS Alliance.
"HIV infection and AIDS have had a devastating, global impact," said New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd. "A success in the fight against AIDS is that early diagnosis through testing means that HIV/AIDS can be effectively managed. Once people know their HIV status and seek care if infected, they can get the help they need to live healthy long lives. I urge New Jersey residents to get tested."
This year alone, as of October 31, 2014, nearly 79,000 free, confidential rapid HIV tests were provided at more than 150 locations in New Jersey. The Rapid HIV Testing program delivers test results in 20 minutes. A list of rapid testing sites is available at http://tinyurl.com/82zzldh.
Progress in the treatment of HIV/AIDS includes advances in medications that have led to a dramatic decline in the transmission of HIV from mothers to babies. Since 1993, the number of babies born with HIV has dropped by more than 90 percent. Only two infants in New Jersey were born HIV-positive in 2013.
These new medications have also slowed symptom and disease progression from HIV to AIDS, enhanced survival rates after AIDS diagnosis, and reduced the risk of transmitting HIV within the general population. Today, more than half of those infected with HIV are living more than ten years after being diagnosed with AIDS.
In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the first annual State HIV Prevention Progress Report providing state-level data on key 2015 national goals. New Jersey exceeded the national average and the goal to increase by 4% the percentage of persons ever tested for HIV with a statewide increase of 4.6%.
HIV disease remains the seventh leading cause of death among African Americans in New Jersey. While the Department has tested and provided care for many thousands of people living with HIV, an estimated 15,000 New Jerseyans with HIV (46%) still may not be receiving care that is readily available in the State.
Minorities account for 76 percent of all HIV/AIDS cases ever reported in the State and 78 percent of all persons living with HIV/AIDS. Fifty-two percent of those living with HIV/AIDS are African American, 25 percent Latino, 1 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, and 22 percent are White. Eighty percent of this population are 40 years of age or older. More information including the latest New Jersey HIV/AIDS Report is available at http://www.nj.gov/health/aids/.
A calendar of World AIDS Day events across New Jersey is available at http://web.doh.state.nj.us/apps2/aids/events.aspx. These events offer HIV testing, education, entertainment, prayer services, health fairs, AIDS quilt displays, meals and refreshments. Sponsors include local government agencies, churches, corporations, hospitals, medical centers, community-based-organizations, federally qualified health centers, foundations, and individuals.
Earlier this year, the Christie Administration distributed $40 million in state and federal funding to organizations providing medical and support services to those living with HIV/AIDS. Additionally, nearly 7,000 state residents with HIV/AIDS receive medications through the Department's AIDS Drug Distribution Program.
More information on World AIDS Day is available on the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/features/worldaidsday/.