LOS ANGELES (November 30, 2015) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, will commemorate World AIDS Day on December 1 through dozens of free HIV awareness and testing events throughout US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia.
According to the World Health Organization, there are about 36.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS globally. In 2014, 2 million people became newly infected with HIV. In recent years, access to lifesaving antiretroviral therapy (ART) has expanded and now 15.8 million people around the world are receiving it. However, access to HIV testing and early diagnosis of the disease remain a critical gap in the global response to AIDS. WHO estimates that currently only about 53% of people with HIV know their status.
“In countries all around the world, AHF is working to expand access to prevention and treatment for HIV/AIDS so that we can reduce the gap in people who are positive and don’t know it,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “We are now reaching over half-a-million men, women and children with lifesaving medical care in thirty-six countries around the world—a remarkable accomplishment that only a great team of patients, medical providers, staff and volunteers could have made possible.”
On World AIDS Day and the weeks preceding and following it, AHF is organizing a series of events in many of its 36 countries of operation, intended to raise the level of HIV awareness among the high risk groups and make convenient, free rapid testing and linkage to care available to communities around the world. While this year AHF is commemorating the World AIDS Day under the unifying slogan of “Dream Big – End it!”, the events in each country will be adapted to the local setting with a specific focus on the populations most impacted in the respective regions.
“We are so proud to be caring for 500,000 people living with HIV around the world—more than half being in Africa alone. We have saved more than one million children from being orphaned. But there is so much more to do,” said AHF Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy Terri Ford. “This World AIDS Day we chose to Dream Big – End it! With a massive scale-up of free HIV rapid testing and referral to care, we can find and treat the 21 million HIV positive people who are not accessing anti retro viral treatment. We also need to reinvigorate a mass availability and promotion of attractively packaged condoms. Condoms work—if available and used. If we stick with Test & Treat, we can and will stop AIDS.”
Below is a selection from dozens of World AIDS Day events planned by AHF across its five global Bureaus. A full list of AHFs U.S. and international World AIDS Day events can be accessed at ahfwad.org.
Uganda – A series of smaller community-based testing events with a culminating grand event in the Masaka district, which will feature spoken word poetry, music competitions and art contests.
Cambodia – An event coinciding with the traditional row boat river racing, which attracts thousands of spectators, will feature HIV testing events co-organized by AHF and local partners, focusing on the young adults.
Ukraine – In conjunction with the European Testing Week, AHF Ukraine will conduct community testing outreach and host a high-level round table with key stakeholders, aimed at improving and promoting the adoption of the newest evidence-based HIV testing policies in Ukraine.
India – Community based HIV testing in 17 states with existing testing partners in campaign mode with a target of 20,000 tests.
Mexico – Four flash mobs with participation of young people are planned across Mexico City, to raise awareness about HIV and the importance of knowing one’s status; Along with art competitions involving photography, illustration and graphic design.
AHF Celebrates Having Over 500,000 Patients in Care Around The World
This World AIDS Day AHF is also celebrating reaching the historic milestone that, as November 13th, the organization is providing lifesaving HIV/AIDS medical care and services to over 500,000 patients in 36 countries where it currently has operations, including South Africa where over half its patients reside. AHF is rolling out a celebratory billboard campaign and hosting commemorative events in Los Angeles and South Florida. On December 1st at the ArcLight Hollywood Theater in Los Angeles, AHF will host a free screening of an AHF-produced film featuring highlights from AHF’s domestic and global activities that have led to the ability for AHF to provide medical care and services to over 500,000 lives in 36 countries. A similar screening will be held on December 2nd at The Classic Gateway Theater in Fort Lauderdale, FL. In addition, a newspaper ‘sticky note’ ad campaign celebrating the 500,000 benchmark will run in newspapers in Los Angeles, South Florida, Washington, DC and Atlanta around the observation of World AIDS Day on December 1st.
“500,000 patients in care is one of the greatest accomplishments in the 28-year history of AHF,” continued Weinstein. “Just two years ago, we celebrated 250,000 patients in care. To now reach over twice that number of lives is incredible. We celebrate today, and as we carry on, I am confident that the leadership of AHF’s domestic and global programs has the capability, and the will, to take us to one million lives in care over the next five years.”
AHF provides medical care and services in nearly 300 global clinics in 35 other countries including:
THE AMERICAS—10 countries, including: Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru (as well as the previously cited United States).
AFRICA—11 countries, including: Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Eswatini, Uganda and Zambia.
ASIA—8 countries, including: Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam.
EUROPE—7 countries, including: Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia and Ukraine.
In addition, AHF operates 49 free HIV/AIDS healthcare centers in 14 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S. (California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Washington [state] and Washington, DC).
HIV is transmitted through the following methods:
- Having sex without a condom
- HIV infection can happen through anal, vaginal or oral sex without the use of a condom. Unprotected (condom-less) oral sex is not as risky as vaginal and anal, but still can spread HIV, especially when there are cuts, bleeding gums or canker sores in the mouth. Learn more about condoms and their use.
- Sharing needles, syringes or drug works
- Sharing any of the equipment to inject drugs can spread HIV.
- Pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding
- Without treatment, an HIV-positive woman will transmit HIV to her child during pregnancy or childbirth about 25% of the time. Babies can also become positive through breastfeeding.