King County Executive Dow Constantine today recognized World AIDS Day 2010 and thanked the community that works every day to improve the lives of people living with HIV in King County and around the world.
King County Executive Dow Constantine today recognized World AIDS Day 2010 and thanked the community that works every day to improve the lives of people living with HIV in King County and around the world. World AIDS Day reflects the goal of the National HIV Strategy by aiming to make King County a place where new HIV infections are rare, and every affected person will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination, regardless of age, gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstances.
"Tremendous progress has been made in the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS, and I am particularly proud of the excellent work done by Public Health -Seattle & King County and our local partners," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "But there is still so much to do. We need to tackle this epidemic with the same aggressive approach we used back in 1987 when King County prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of HIV status. We will strive to set continuing high standards in our commitment to HIV/AIDS prevention and care."
In King County, more than 4,400 people have died from HIV. Approximately 7,600 people are now living with HIV, including an estimated 10% to 15% of infected individuals who are unaware of their HIV status. About 300 people are newly infected each year. Prevention and public education are still critical to stopping this disease, and Public Health - Seattle & King County is working to ensure there is easy access to HIV testing for all residents.
"We are fortunate to live in a place where so many groups are working together to address the needs created by the epidemic of HIV," said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health - Seattle & King County. "Public Health remains committed to our community partnerships to assure that we are doing the best we can for all who are affected by HIV."
Public Health - Seattle & King County recommends that all people between the ages of 13 and 64 receive at least one HIV test, with follow-up tests whenever they encounter new risks. People at higher risk for HIV infection should get an HIV test at least once each year, and as frequently as every 3 months for those at highest risk. Effective treatments are now widely available for people living with HIV, and more informed decisions about treatment can be made when an infection is detected early.
The theme for World AIDS Day 2010 is "Light for Rights: Keep the Light on HIV and Human Rights." HIV affects all populations and age groups. Across the globe 25 million people have died from HIV and 33.3 million people are currently living with HIV disease.
More information on the HIV/AIDS care and prevention programs administered by Public Health - Seattle & King County, can be found on the department's HIV/AIDS website at: http://www.kingcounty.gov/health/hiv.