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December 1st is World AIDS Day, an annual opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.

HIV/AIDS continues to be an urgent human rights and public health crisis, impacting millions in the U.S. and around the world. This, despite the fact that when it comes to ending the epidemic, we know what works: access to a full range of sexual and reproductive health care and rights; combating stigma, discrimination, and other barriers that restrict the ability of all people to access life saving information and services.

We also know that, like most health conditions, social issues impact the way the HIV/AIDS epidemic works. Marginalized communities are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS including gay and bisexual men, black women, and transgender people. Social issues such as poverty, gender inequality, discrimination, lack of education, and violence put individuals and communities at increased risk of acquiring HIV and compound the impact of HIV/AIDS.

That’s why Planned Parenthood Great Plains stands strong with our partners who are fighting to improve the lives of patients living with HIV, and working to ensure access to preventive treatments are accessible and affordable. We will never back down and we will never stop fighting to ensure that our patients have access to the care they need, including prevention, testing, counseling, and treatment of HIV/AIDS, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, income, or postal code.

Here in our region, our health centers provide testing, counseling, and treatment of HIV/AIDS including access to PrEP and PEP. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is when people at risk for HIV take HIV medicines daily to lower their chances of getting infected. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body. When used correctly, daily PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%. PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) means taking antiretroviral medicines after being potentially exposed to HIV to prevent becoming infected. PEP is used only in emergency situations and must be started within 72 hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV. If you think you’ve recently been exposed to HIV during sex or through sharing needles, or if you’ve been sexually assaulted, visita PPGP health center right away.

Globally, Planned Parenthood works with more than 100 organizations across Africa and Latin America to reach more than 1 million people per year around the world with sexual and reproductive health information and services, and engage in effective advocacy efforts which help fight HIV/AIDS. We’ve been working globally for more than 40 years because we truly believe in care, no matter what, and no matter where.

Every individual should have access to the care they need to control their body and their future. This is true whether they are HIV-positive or not. Now is the time to move forward not backward, on this issue, which has impacted so many millions around the world. Let’s protect our progress, and double down on our efforts to achieve an AIDS-free generation.

Tags: AIDS