World AIDS Day focuses on remembrance, commitment to fighting the disease

Friday is World AIDS day and leaders in the fight against the disease said there’s still work to be done.

The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is “Remember and Commit,” which centers on the decades of efforts to treat HIV and educate people about the disease.

“The whole purpose of this theme is to remember those who have lost their lives to HIV and to commit to ensuring that those who are living with HIV have the most information, the best information and adequate health care,” said Yemisi Odusanya, senior adviser for the Health Resources and Services Administration.

She said while there is work to be done 35 years after the real fight against HIV began, there is some progress to point to.

“HIV has become something that people can live with and they can live healthy lives,” Odusanya said.

According to new data just released by The Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, nine out of 10 clients receiving medical care through the program were virally suppressed, which is an increase from 69.5% in 2010.

D.C. used the day to remind area residents of the free services the city provides to those living with or at risk of acquiring HIV or AIDS.

  • Free, confidential in-home HIV and STD tests for anyone aged 13 and older.
  • For those who qualify, DC Health offers free Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for insured & uninsured HIV negative residents who are at high risk of HIV infection.
  • The DC Health and Wellness Center at 77 P Street NE provides free on-site HIV and STD testing and treatment, PrEP/PEP services, assistance with benefits and linkage of referrals to other services.

More information about services available in D.C. is on DC Health’s website.

In addition to advances in care, the social stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS has also improved, according to Odusanya.

“The internet and social media has been helpful when it comes to educating people on the resources that we have for HIV.”

Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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