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After 26 World AIDS Days, Looking at How Far We’ve Come

world aids dayA total of 35 million people worldwide are living with HIV or AIDS, and in the 30-plus years since the beginning of the epidemic, many scientific and social breakthroughs have been achieved.

PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is endorsed by the American government as a new defense against the disease, and its pill, Truvada, is widely available. About 13 million HIV positive people are taking life-saving medications that extend their lives by decades and suppress the AIDS virus. The majority of those people are in low-to-middle income countries like Nigeria.

Mother-to-Child transmission for HIV positive mothers who are on treatment is less than 2 percent. However, a new study looking at 3,500 women show that new cocktails of drugs can decrease the risk from 1.8 percent for the control to .5 percent for the experimental group.

While there have been steps leading us forward, the fight is still far from over. About 40 percent of HIV positive Americans are currently receiving care.  Also, only about a third of HIV patients in this country have the disease under control—meaning low viral levels in the blood, which prevents problems in other organs.

Black men who have sex with men as well as Black women are still the most at-risk for contracting the disease.

The theme for the 26th annual World AIDS Days is “AIDS Free Generation.” This isn’t about going back to a “time where we remember when…” but moving forward as an educated and empowered body to make better choices, fight harder, and be stronger to eradicate AIDS from our lives but not memories.

We will remember the 40 million lives that were lost to AIDS, and build upon their legacy to bring about a generation that is AIDS free.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, http://Facebook.com/TheReporterandTheGirl and visit her website at http://www.SCRhyne.com

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