Progress being made with HIV & AIDS, but it won’t be enough until both are fully eradicated

A few days ago, Dec. 1 to be precise, it was World AIDS Day. The first celebration of its kind took place in 1998 and has happened every Dec. 1 since. The global agency that came up with the concept did so with the hope of educating the world about this hideous, deadly disease that has affected millions of people — and their friends and families — for 40 some-odd years.

There are some staggering statistics about AIDS — and HIV — you should know:

  • More than 1.1 million people have HIV in the United States. Of that group, 1 in 7 are unaware they’re infected.
  • Three years ago, 38,500 Americans were infected with HIV.
  • Since 2010, fortunately, the infection rate among Americans has dropped by 8%.
  • HIV diagnoses are not evenly distributed across states and regions. People in southern states accounted for more than half of new HIV diagnoses in 2016, while making up 38% of the nation’s population.
  • The black and Latino population continues to be the most affected by the disease. African Americans represent 12% of the U.S. population, but accounted for 44% (17,528) of new HIV diagnoses in 2016. African Americans have the highest rate of HIV diagnoses compared to other races and ethnicities. Latinos represent about 18% of the U.S. population, but accounted for 25% (9,766) of new HIV diagnoses in 2016.

While many of these statistics seem staggering, they’re substantially better than they were just a decade ago in this country. And, considering that in Africa alone there are nearly 26 million people living with HIV, America’s numbers are by far and large better.

Yet we still live in a world where this disease continues to kill. There just isn’t enough discussion, anymore, about these diseases. And the truth of the matter is, though it’s not eradicated yet, universal precautions — in scenarios surrounding the ways the disease is spread —could eliminate the disease fully.

Bottom line: Not enough people take HIV and AIDS seriously, and if they did, there’d be no need for a cure.

Still, considering that having HIV is no longer a death sentence as it was in the 1980s and 1990s, it leaves room for hope.

But we cannot be satisfied — as individuals or as a nation — until the disease is eradicated fully. And when that day comes — let’s hope it’s sooner than later — there will be cause for celebration, as Dec. 1 will become just another, ordinary day.

And instead of reminders of how awful HIV & AIDS truly are, we can then look back at how awful HIV & AIDS once WERE … and will never again be, forever more.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.