Governor Roy Cooper issued a proclamation recognizing Dec. 1 as World AIDS Day in North Carolina and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health joins in this observance. World AIDS Day renews opportunities for health service agencies to collaborate with partners, raise awareness about HIV and move closer to an AIDS-free generation.
“We have made great strides in the work of HIV prevention and care in recent years,” said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen. “We recognize and support our fellow citizens living with HIV, and we appreciate the health care providers, community supports and loved ones that care for them.”
As of December 2016, there were an estimated 36,700 people living with HIV or AIDS in North Carolina with approximately 2,600 of them unaware of their infection. It is crucial that health care providers carefully evaluate their patients’ risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and discuss risk reduction strategies with them.
“We have more tools and resources now than ever to prevent the spread of HIV,” said State HIV/STD/Hepatitis Director Jacquelyn Clymore. “Everyone living with HIV should be in care and on medication, with the goal of viral suppression.”
North Carolina is ranked 11th in the U.S. for the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases. According to the 2016 North Carolina HIV/STD Surveillance Report, 1,399 adults and adolescents were diagnosed with HIV in the state in 2016. Of those, 62 percent were virally suppressed. Encouraging efforts to improve testing, education, prevention, linkage to care and viral suppression are the keys to further reducing the spread of HIV.
While there is no cure for the HIV infection, effective treatment with antiretroviral drugs can control the virus so people with HIV can enjoy healthy lives.
“There are many reasons to look toward the future with great hope,” Clymore said. “We know how to treat HIV so that each person living with the virus stays healthier, lives longer and doesn’t have to worry about transmitting HIV to their partners.”