By: Demetre Daskalkis, MD, MPH, Director, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Earlier this month on June 5th, the world marked 40 years since the first five cases of what we now know as HIV (then AIDS) were officially reported. In 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) described the five cases of a rare lung infection in young, previously healthy, gay men in Los Angeles.
This June, we remember the more than 32 million people who have died from HIV worldwide since the start of the global epidemic, and the 38 million people currently living with HIV. Along with the global community, we are redoubling our efforts to ensure equitable access to prevention and care services, especially for people disproportionately affected by HIV.
Over the last 40 years, much progress has been made in testing, preventing, and treating HIV. From 2015–2019 the estimated number of new HIV infections decreased by 8%[i]. Biomedical interventions, like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and treatment as prevention, are some of the significant advancements during the last four decades.
Also in June, we recognize National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) on June 27th. The theme for this year’s NHTD is “My Test, My Way.” This theme highlights how people can take charge of their health by getting tested for HIV in a way that works best for them—whether that’s self-testing in their own space or going to a testing site.
Community health centers are a key point of entry into care for people in communities disproportionately impacted by HIV. Your centers play a vital role in providing HIV prevention services, testing, and care and treatment. While we have made much progress in HIV, there is more work to do.
To meet the goals identified in the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative, we need to relentlessly uproot causes and social determinants that stand in our way. We need to work to end HIV stigma and disrupt systems that divide people based on identities or HIV status. Innovative approaches, such as public-private partnerships, telemedicine, and telehealth can help us reach our goals.
I hope your health center will share content from CDC’s Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, and from the NHTD digital toolkit. We encourage you to share this content leading up to and on June 27th using the hashtags #HIVTestingDay and #StopHIVTogether. For HIV provider resources and updates, visit CDC’s HIV Nexus. Together, we can end the HIV epidemic.
[i] Source: CDC. Estimated HIV incidence and prevalence in the United States, 2015-2019. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2021;26(1).