World AIDS Day 2023

Since 1988, December 1 has been designated by the World Health Organization as World AIDS Day as a platform to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, and to honor the lives of those affected by the epidemic.  It is an international day of recognition of the AIDS pandemic and of remembering and mourning those who have died of the disease. World AIDS Day is the first ever international day for global health. This is the 35th year of the commemoration of the disease.

When the first World AIDS Day was held in 1988, an estimated 625,000 people were living with HIV1.   Today, an estimated 38 million people are living with HIV, many of whom are not aware they are HIV infected.  Since 1981, when the first HIV case was reported, an estimated 35,000,000 people have died of AIDS.2

The primary purpose of World AIDS Day is education, the distribution of information.  The first World AIDS Day was themed “Communication.”  The theme of World AIDS Day, 2023 is “Remember and Commit”.  According to Admiral Rachel Levine, MD, the Assistant Secretary for Health stated, “The 35th commemoration is to reflect on our journey…, the progress we’ve made…, and recognize the challenges remaining. The battle is far from over.”3

The purpose of collecting statistical information is to identify those at risk and target prevention strategies to those most likely to need information and other resources. Overall, US  HIV diagnoses has decreased over the last decade.  However, rates of HIV infection have increased in certain groups of people, including men who have sex with men, Black and Hispanic Americans, and those living in the Southern US states.   The Southern states have accounted for 52% of US HIV cases from 2017-2021.4

Since the HIV/AIDS virus has been identified, the efficacy of HIV treatments and prevention efforts have improved enormously.  Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP) for individuals at risk of HIV exposure through sex or injection drug use has been demonstrated to reduce the rate of HIV infections in areas in the United States where PreP coverage has increased and sterile syringe services are available. The number of injection drug users getting HIV infected has been reduced by half.  5,6

According to the CDC, 86% of people who have HIV, know they are infected. Sixty-five percent of HIV infected people have their HIV under control with treatment.  However, only 18% of people without HIV but who are at risk of HIV take PreP.  The CDC has identified HIV testing and treatment, and wider use of PreP for those at risk are the key actions to help end the HIV epidemic.5

  1. 11/18/23

  2. 11/17/23

  3. accessed 11/17/23

  4. accessed 11/17/23

  5. accessed 11/18/23

  6. accessed 11/20/23