Several events are being held around Columbus today to mark World AIDS Day, an annual observance to raise awareness, support people living with HIV-AIDS, remember those who have died, and encourage others to get tested.
Doctor Michael Para, associate dean of clinical research at Ohio State University, says the sooner someone knows they have the virus, the more quickly they can get treatment. He says research suggests using treatment as prevention can stop new infections.
Christopher Hetzer of Columbus was diagnosed with HIV two years ago. He says his medication regimen keeps his viral loads so low that the virus is undetectable.
The HIV virus was first detected 35 years ago. The Centers for Disease Control estimates 1.2 million Americans are infected with HIV, but one-in-eight do not know it. State data shows there were 950 new HIV diagnoses in 2014 and 22-thousand Ohioans are living with HIV. But efforts to stop the spread of the disease have slowed in recent years. Since 2010, there have been 2 million new cases reported each year worldwide. A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that global funding to combat HIV declined in 2015 by 1.1 billion dollars to 7.5 billion. UNICEF projects HIV infections among adolescents — currently 250 thousand a year — could rise dramatically over the next 15 years if more isn't done to address sexual transmission among teens.
A list of some of today's local events is available through this link to the Columbus Public Health website: https://www.columbus.gov/publichealth/features/World-AIDS-Day-Events/