World AIDS Day 2019 recognizes communities and individuals living with HIV and AIDS
(New Haven, Conn.)—Sunday, December 1, 2019 marks World AIDS Day, an opportunity to raise awareness and show solidarity with more than 38 million people living with HIV worldwide. The theme of this year’s observance is “Communities Make the Difference,” recognizing the critical role that diverse communities play in eradicating AIDS locally, nationally, and across the globe. Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) remains determined to end the fight against HIV/AIDS for good by providing the testing, prevention, information, and care people need to know their status and lead healthy lives.
“Fighting HIV and AIDS requires comprehensive, community solutions that center the people who are most affected,” said Kafi Rouse, Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “The first step is knowing your status—I encourage everyone who doesn’t know their HIV status to get tested. We must work together to eliminate stigma, end discrimination, increase access to preventive medication and ensure everyone living with HIV and AIDS can access life-saving treatment and care.”
Harmful policies from the Trump-Pence administration threaten to roll back progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS communities in the U.S. and around the world. In one of its first acts, the Trump-Pence administration reinstated the harmful global gag rule and radically expanded it to include all U.S. global health assistance, affecting HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs (PEPFAR) for the first time. Earlier this year, the Trump-Pence administration began enforcing a similar domestic gag rule, withholding Title X family planning funding from any facility that provides or refers patients for abortion, attacking reproductive health care providers and forcing Planned Parenthood out of the program. In the U.S., many people with low incomes rely on Title X to access regular STD/STI testing—the first line of defense against the spread of HIV/AIDS.
HIV-related stigma and discrimination—the prejudice, negative attitudes, and abuse directed at people living with HIV/AIDS—is among the foremost barriers to HIV prevention and care. Continued stigma and discrimination discourage testing and treatment. While progress has been made, HIV/AIDS continues to be an urgent human rights and public health crisis which disproportionately affects people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people with low incomes, and many others who already struggle to access health care.
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. Approximately 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV and almost one in seven people are unaware they are infected. More than 10,500 people in Connecticut and approximately 2,600 people in Rhode Island are living with HIV.
Testing and prevention are critical in the fight against HIV/AIDS. PPSNE has 17 health centers in Connecticut and Rhode Island that offer many essential preventive services including HIV and STD/STI testing. HIV can be managed, and HIV-positive individuals can live full lives if they know their status and take action to stay as healthy as possible. PPSNE also prescribes the HIV prevention medications PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post exposure prophylaxis) at all of its health centers. When taken daily, PrEP can lower the chances of contracting HIV from sex by more than 90%. PEP is a series of medications taken within 72 hours of exposure that lowers the chance of becoming infected with HIV.
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England is a trusted, local resource for accessible, confidential, and high-quality health care for all people, including all FDA-approved birth control methods, abortion care, pregnancy testing and counseling, emergency contraception, cancer screenings, annual exams and more. PPSNE offers a sliding fee scale based on income and participates in many insurance plans. For convenience, online, walk-in, and same-day appointments are available.
To make an appointment or for more information, visit ppsne.org or call 1-800-230-PLAN (7526).