Each December first, the world recognizes World AIDS Day – a day to remember and support friends and family living with HIV/AIDS. Nearly 40 years after cases first emerged, HIV/AIDS is still one of the significant public health issues in the world.

It is imperative for everyone – regardless of race or creed – to know what it is, what it’s capable of, and, if impacted, where to look for help.  Here are a few vital pieces of information for reference:

  • HIV is indeed a virus that attacks your immune system BUT it is unique in the sense that the human body cannot physically get rid of it.
  • HIV can hide in your T-cells or CD4 cells. These cells are the ones who are in charge of protecting your immune system from any viruses BUT the HIV virus uses these cells to reproduce itself and ultimately destroy this line of defense.
  • AIDS is the last stage of HIV which usually means that the immune system is badly damaged at this point.
  • HIV can be transmitted through sexual contact, pregnancy,  breast feeding, and injection drug use
  • Many who are exposed to HIV never exhibit any symptoms of the virus until the final stage BUT some people after 2-4 of exposure may experience flu-like symptoms.
  • More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. 35.5 million people live with HIV worldwide.
  • Women account for one in five new HIV diagnoses in the United Sates.
  • African Americans constituted 64% of women diagnosed with HIV in 2011.
  • African American women have an HIV prevalence rate four times that of any other race/ethnicity.
  • About 1 in 4 new HIV infections fall under the age category of 13 -24.

It is recommended that adults who are sexually active be tested for HIV/AIDS at least once a year. HIV testing can come in one of three options: mouth swab, urine, and blood sample. There are many centers that offer FREE testing for HIV! Click on the link to find a center near you and to find more information.

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