During 2010, some 2.7 million people became infected with HIV, including an estimated 390,000 children. Most of these children are babies born to women with HIV. Drugs are available to minimize the dangers of mother-to-child HIV transmission, but these are still often not reaching the places where they are most needed.
The year also saw 1.8 million deaths from AIDS-related causes. The number of deaths peaked at about 2005, and because of the expansion of antiretroviral therapy, it is estimated that 2.5 million AIDS-related deaths have been prevented since 1995 in low- and middle- income countries. By the end of 2009, the epidemic had left behind 16.6 million AIDS orphans, defined as those aged under 18 who have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
About half of people who acquire HIV become infected before they turn 25, and AIDS is the second most common cause of death among 20- to 24-year-olds.
Each year, about 50,000 people get infected with HIV in the United States. Getting an HIV test is the first step to finding out if you have HIV and getting medical care. Without medical care, HIV leads to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and early death.
Free HIV Rapid Testing will be available today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Asbury Methodist Church by appointment only. Please contact Jeff at 304-421-4669 to set an appointment.
I invite you to join us as we observe World AIDS Day. We will begin our observance at 6 p.m. today at Asbury Methodist Church where Covenant House will be presented with the Red Ribbon Award. Following the presentation, we will have a candlelit procession to the Garden. The Charleston Gay Men's Chorale will perform at both venues.
Severino, of Charleston, is a founding member of the Pride Committee and co-founder of the Living AIDS Memorial Garden Inc.