The year 2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the first five official reports of what we now know as AIDS. More than 36 million individuals, including 700,000 people in the United States, have died from AIDS-related sickness since the epidemic began in 1985. AAHP joins the global commemoration of World AIDS Day every December 1st to honor those lost, to highlight efforts to end the epidemic, and to show support for everyone living with HIV/AIDS, including the more than 4,000 Montgomery County residents.
Domestically and worldwide, remarkable progress has been achieved in preventing and treating HIV. New innovations in HIV research, prevention, care, and treatment have helped to decrease the HIV transmission rate and have made it so that an HIV diagnosis is no longer seen as a death sentence. Through sexual health education campaigns, the stigma of HIV has been greatly reduced. Despite this remarkable success, HIV remains a major health threat on a national and global scale, with Blacks/African Americans disproportionately affected.
This year, AAHP began collaborations with the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE) a federal strategy launched locally by the former County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles. With the goal of ending the HIV epidemic in Montgomery County, federal funding and assistance will develop four critical service areas: diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and outbreak response. AAHP’s HIV navigator works closely with EHE’s program manager to provide culturally informed, judgment-free HIV prevention services to Montgomery County residents of African descent.
AAHP encourages Montgomery County residents to review the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services’ A Plan to End HIV in Montgomery County. We hope each of you join in these efforts by doing the following:
- Learn the basics about HIV.
- Get tested for HIV, even if you do not think you are at risk.
- Seek treatment if you’re a person living with HIV.
- Ask your healthcare provider about PrEP, the HIV prevention medication.
- Combat HIV stigma by treating people living with HIV with respect and compassion.