World AIDS Day recognized by world, regional, and local health officials

For 28 years, December 1st has been reserved to raise awareness of HIV and support those who live with the illness and those working to prevent it. 

The day established by the World Health Organization and the United Nations is recognized by health officials, communities around the world, and even here in South Bend.

“Today is just a day for us to pause and remember that we're still in the fight in regards to HIV/AIDs that it hasn't went away or anything like that. We're still fighting the same good fight even though with a lot of different advances that have come along in regards to prevention as well as medication that allow people to live a lot longer, we're still having people that are getting diagnosed as well,” said Latorya Greene, conference organizer for the 2016 Women and AIDS Conference.

Thursday, the Logan Center held the 2016 Women and AIDS Conference for continuing support of disease prevention and create awareness about the risk factors. 

“Everyone should know their HIV status, and today is a great opportunity to remind people of that. HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was. It is a chronic disease that can be managed with treatment, but it has to be detected first,” said Jerome Adams, State Health Commissioner.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, nearly 12,000 Hoosiers currently live with HIV/AIDS. 

The ISDH says they intend to honor those who have been impacted by the disease by displaying panels of a quilt to celebrate the lives of those who have died from the illness and members of the HIV/STD division will distribute red ribbons.

“On World AIDS Day, ISDH will be side-by-side with our many external partners as we continue to shine the spotlight on this disease that continues to affect the lives of so many,” said Dennis Stover, director of ISDH’s HIV/STD division.

With the many awareness programs in place, the recent presidential election has some worried about the potential impact on the future of policy. 

During the conference, Policy and Legislative Coordinator at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago says the Trump Administration could be problematic for HIV policy. 

“In regards to HIV policy, the fact that they have no platform is really problematic. Eliminate bad policy. Eliminate policy that's based on bad science. Eliminate laws that try to keep people safer. The intention is to keep people safe, but it really just throws people down the prison pipeline,” said Brockenborough.

Through it all, those at the conference agree if the current generation of women and men are going to be saved, people must educate themselves about this ‘ongoing epidemic.’

For more information on HIV/AIDS testing, click here.

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