On December 1, 2015 New Jersey will join the World Health Organization in observing World AIDS Day with events to support those living with HIV, to honor those who have died and to encourage those who may be at risk to get tested.
Throughout New Jersey, community-based organizations, hospitals and churches will host events featuring HIV testing clinics, patient testimonials, education outreach, entertainment, candlelight prayer services and health fairs.
This year's World AIDS Day theme is "Getting to Zero-Getting to Zero New HIV Infections.
A list of New Jersey's World AIDS Day commemorations can be found on the Department's website at http://www.nj.gov/health/aids/index.shtml.
Acting Commissioner Bennett will attend St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Camden for an interfaith prayer service from 1 to 2 p.m.
"We all need to take steps to protect our health. HIV is a treatable disease and early intervention is key," said Acting Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett. "There have been great strides in ensuring people with HIV can live long, healthy lives. However, it is critical to get tested, so individuals can be linked to medical treatment early."
Over the past three decades, much progress has been made in HIV treatment. Medical advances have led to a decline in the transmission of HIV from mothers to babies. In 2014 and 2015, no babies in New Jersey were born with HIV.
More than 38,300 people are living with HIV in New Jersey. About 12 to 15% are unaware they have the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once, and those at higher risk should get tested at least once a year. Healthcare professionals should offer an HIV test as part of routine care.
"Early testing not only improves health outcomes for those diagnosed with HIV but decreases the likelihood of further transmission to new generations," Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito said.
Nearly 99,000 free, confidential rapid HIV tests were administered in the state last year at more than 150 locations. This testing program delivers test results in approximately 20 minutes. A list of rapid testing sites is available at http://www.nj.gov/health/aids/rapidtesting/location.shtml
Nearly 7,000 HIV patients received HIV-related medications through the NJ AIDS Drug Distribution Program from April 2014 through March 2015.
New Jersey fast facts:
- About 87 percent of pediatric HIV/AIDS cases are minorities.
- Nearly 80 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS are 40 years old or older.
- Minorities account for 76 percent of all adult HIV/AIDS.
- More than half (51 percent) of those living with HIV/AIDS are black, non-Hispanic
- Women account for 33 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS; 45 percent are 20 to 49 years old.
- Between 2002 and 2013, while the number of HIV/AIDS diagnoses among all other risk populations decreased by 32%, the number of HIV/AIDS diagnoses among young men who have sex with men increased by 40%.
- From 2014 through June 2015, over 2,100 New Jerseyans who tested positive for HIV were linked to HIV treatment through the NJ statewide linkage to care network.
- From 2014-through June 2015, over 2,000 women and their sexual partners received health services provided by NJ Access to Reproductive Care and HIV Services (ARCH) nurses.
- Earlier this year, the Christie Administration distributed $40.2 million in state and federal funding to organizations providing medical and support services to those living with HIV/AIDS. Additionally, nearly 7,000 residents with HIV/AIDS receive medications through the Department's AIDS Drug Distribution Program.
Strategies for preventing or reducing risk for HIV infection include:
- Adhering to HIV treatment regimens, if you are HIV-infected,
- Abstaining from sexual activity,
- Using condoms consistently and correctly,
- Avoiding sharing needles to inject fluids,
- Refraining from sharing needles for body piercing or tattoos, and
- Seeking HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), if you are at high risk for HIV.
More information, including the latest New Jersey HIV/AIDS report, is available here.