Health and Family Services Cabinet
Kentucky Public Health Observes World AIDS Day Dec. 1

Press Release Date:  Monday, December 01, 2014  
Contact Information:  Gwenda Bond or Beth Fisher,(502) 564-6786, ext. 3100 and 3101  

World AIDS Day is being observed today around the globe on, celebrating successes in battling the epidemic and bringing into focus remaining challenges. The 2014 theme is “Getting to Zero:” Zero New Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths.

This year marks the 26th anniversary of World AIDS Day.  It was first observed in 1988 by health educators around the world who called for a spirit of social tolerance and a greater awareness of HIV/AIDS. 

“World AIDS Day is a time to raise awareness of HIV, remember those who lost their lives to the pandemic and to focus on outreach and education to prevent further spread of the disease,” said Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Stephanie Mayfield. “Despite advances in the understanding of HIV and AIDS, World AIDS Day serves as a reminder that this disease still impacts millions of people worldwide.”

In fact, more than 1 million adults and adolescents are living with HIV in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that every 9.5 minutes someone in the U.S. is infected with HIV, totaling about 56,300 new infections annually.

According to data collected by the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), at the end of 2013, there were 5,949 Kentuckians reported living with HIV disease. This excludes an estimated 2,090 Kentuckians that are unaware of their infection. All Kentucky counties have been impacted by HIV disease but those with the largest number of people living with the infection are Jefferson County (2,631 people or 44 percent of the population of the county); Fayette County (843 people, 14 percent); and Kenton County (263 people, 5 percent). In 2012, there were 371 new HIV infections diagnosed among Kentuckians, a 19 percent increase from 2011.

World AIDS Day is a time to recognize the continuing work being done by public health staff, community partners and advocates to prevent the spread of HIV in Kentucky and to honor those living and struggling against the resulting daily challenges of being HIV-positive. In the 33 years since the first cases of AIDS were diagnosed, there have been advances in treatment that have allowed for widespread access to life-saving medication.

“Early detection and treatment can prevent long-term complications and reduce transmission rates,” said Karen Sams, manager of the DPH HIV/AIDS branch. “Kentucky Public Health encourages Kentuckians to get educated about HIV/AIDS and get tested, talk to someone who is infected, share knowledge with family and friends, and wear a red ribbon to increase awareness. HIV/AIDS is preventable – let’s work together to end this disease.”

As part of the global call for action, Kentucky organizations are planning the following events around the state:

• Dec. 1: AVOL community ceremony, 6 to 8 p.m., Carnegie Center, Lexington.
• Dec. 1: Lexington-Fayette County Health Department neighborhood testing, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Lexington.
• Dec. 1: North Central Area Health Education Center education events,  4 to 8 p.m., Bluegrass Community Health Center and Keeneland Training Center, Lexington.
• Dec. 1: Volunteers of America, Kentucky Chapter education, testing and remembrance event, 6 to 8 p.m. 901 South 4th St., Louisville.
• Dec. 1: Keeping It Real Neighborhood Institute education and testing event, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. the Nia Center, Louisville.
• Dec. 1: North Central Area Health Education Center education and testing event. 2 to 4 p.m., Centro de Amistad, 10136 Dixie Highway, Florence.
• Dec.  2: Barren River District Health Department education and testing event, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green.
• Dec. 3: North Central Area Health Education Center education and  testing event, noon to 2 p.m., Marguerite Robinson Community Center, 400 W. 6th St., Newport.
• Dec. 8: North Central Area Health Education Center education and testing event, 5 to 7 p.m., Walgreen’s, 12th and Madison, Covington.
• Dec. 13: The House of Claiborne education and testing event, 2 p.m. to midnight, Ramada Inn, Lexington.