GlobeMed at Northwestern encourages everyone to recognize World AIDS Day this coming Wednesday, December 1.

In America, someone is diagnosed with AIDS every 10 minutes. In South Africa, someone dies due to HIV or AIDS every 10 minutes. HIV/AIDS is often described as a disease of developing countries, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at the end of 2006, there were 1.1 million HIV positive adults and adolescents in the US.

In neighboring Chicago,

  • In 2006, there were 21, 367 people living with HIV/AIDS in Chicago.
  • In 2006, there were 754 new diagnosed AIDS cases in Chicago and 1,557 HIV cases.
  • Among news diagnoses, 74% were male and 26% were female.
  • Overall infection rates have declined by 20% in the last six years, but the rate among adolescents age 15-24 has increased by 42%.

(All statistics are from the Chicago Department of Public Health, STD/HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, Summer 2008.)

So here are 5 things you can do to commemorate World AIDS Day

  1. Find out the facts about HIV and talk to your friends, family, and colleagues about HIV — make sure they know the reality, not the myths.
  2. Know your HIV status: get tested if you have put yourself at risk.
  3. Talk to all new sexual partners about using condoms. Using a condom during sex (especially vaginal or anal sex) is the best way to protect yourself and your partner from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
  4. If someone tells you they are HIV positive, treat them with respect and don’t tell others without their agreement.
  5. Wear a red ribbon as a symbol of your support for everyone affected by HIV, and to raise awareness. The red ribbon has been an international symbol of AIDS awareness since 1991. It has been worn as a sign of support for people living with HIV. Wearing a red ribbon for World AIDS Day is a simple and powerful way to show support and challenge the stigma and prejudice surrounding HIV and AIDS that prevents us from tackling HIV. –KATIE SMILEY