December 1 World AIDS Day focusing on disease’s effect on global landscape

By Ayesha K. Mustafaa

Interim Managing Editor

The biggest day of the year dedicated to the awareness of the effect of HIV/AIDS on the global landscape is Saturday, Dec. 1.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “About 500,000 people get HIV each year and young people between the ages of 13 and 24 represent a quarter of these new HIV infections or 26 percent.”

The CDC report continued, “The majority of youth living with HIV are unaware they are infected, and young gay and bisexual men and African Americans are the most affected. Nearly 60 percent of new infections among youth occur in African Americans, 20 percent in Hispanics/Latinos and about 20 percent in whites.”

The implications for public health, according to the CDC, is that more effort is needed to provide effective school and community-based interventions to ensure all youths have the knowledge, skills, resources and support necessary to avoid HIV infection.

“Vital Signs,” an online resource published by Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention at CDC, provides age appropriate HIV prevention education and calls for testing of at risk youth. It also underscores the importance of treatment and care for youth who have HIV.

On this World Aids Day, Kyle S. Yeldell, NNPA’s national co-chair for the Act Against AIDS Initiative, said, “We should be working together for an AIDS-free generation. It will take a concerted effort to provide our nation’s youth with the tools and resources they need to assess their own personal risks, get tested and protect themselves from HIV infection.

Mississippi falls in the highest of “prevalence rates” for HIV/AIDS among youth 13 – 24 years old at 562.8 persons out of every 100,000.