Get Healthy Carson City: World AIDS Day a time of awareness and remembrance

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

World AIDS Day is observed on Dec. 1 and is an opportunity to raise the awareness of HIV/AIDS, show support for those living with HIV, and commemorate those that have died from AIDS.

When the AIDS epidemic emerged 35 plus years ago, most everyone died of an AIDS-related condition after diagnosis. We have come a long way, but until we can stop transmission of this virus, Dec. 1 will always be a day of awareness and remembrance.

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a worldwide disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and has significant impacts on Nevadans. At the end of 2013, a total of 9,114 persons were known to be living with HIV/AIDS in Nevada; over half (52 percent) of whom had been diagnosed with AIDS. Overall, the number of new HIV infections, new AIDS cases, and deaths among persons living with HIV/AIDS has been steadily declining.

Today, fewer people are becoming infected and people are living longer once they are diagnosed because of the availability of antiviral medications. While many advances have been made in HIV/AIDS prevention and care, some groups of Nevadans are at greater risk for contracting HIV based on their geographic location, sex, age, and race or ethnicity (Department of Health and Human Services Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, HIV/AIDS Epidemiological Profile, Published January 2015, Edition 1.0).

The battle against HIV/AIDS is still occurring! In the United States alone, someone is infected with HIV every 9 1/2 minutes. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is spread by having unprotected sex with someone who is infected with the disease. Statistics show that 1 in 7 people did not know they were infected. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone between the ages of 13 to 64 years old with specific risk factors be tested annually. HIV testing is available to everyone at Carson City Health and Human Services, 900 E. Long St. Early detection and immediate antiviral treatment therapy is very important. Once a person has the HIV virus they will always have it.

If you know someone who has been recently diagnosed with HIV, encourage them to seek treatment and provide support which is critical to someone who has just been told they are positive. Reassure them that there is treatment and that it will not change your relationship with them. Be aware it is important for people living with HIV to take their HIV medication every day, exactly as prescribed.

For World AIDS Day, educate yourself about HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Know how to protect yourself at all times. Have open and honest conversations about HIV/AIDS with your friends and family. Talk to your children and friends about abstinence, protection, and testing. Together we can stop the transmission of HIV and the devastation of AIDS!

For more information on HIV testing, check out our website at

This publication was supported by the Nevada State Division of Public and Behavioral Health through Grant No. X07HA00001-26 from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Nevada State Health Division nor the Health Resource and Services Administration.


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