World AIDS Day: Act Aware

World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.

The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) is focused on education on HIV/AIDS awareness and applying this knowledge to encourage protection from HIV infection.

Many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, and now there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds us that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

Nearly 70 million people worldwide have been infected with the HIV virus and about 35 million people have died of AIDS. Globally, 34 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2011. Nearly 1 percent of adults aged 15-49 years worldwide are living with HIV, although the burden of the epidemic continues to vary considerably between countries and regions. Sub-Saharan Africa remains most severely affected, with nearly one in every 20 adults living with HIV and accounting for 69 percent of people living with HIV worldwide. (Source: World Health Organization)

Download an interactive map illustrating HIV/AIDS prevalence around the world here.

In the U.S., more than one million people are infected with HIV, with an estimated 50,000 newly diagnosed each year although the number of new infections has been steadily declining. Thanks to advances in antiretroviral therapy, the AIDS-related death rate has fallen by 79 percent. (Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Currently, there are more than 70 medicines and vaccines in development to treat HIV/AIDS. Within the last 30 years, nearly 40 medicines have been approved to treat HIV/AIDS, according to Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

In addition, biotech and pharmaceutical companies are intensifying their efforts to develop vaccines that would help prevent HIV. Current estimates show that a 50 percent effective vaccine given to only a third of the population could reduce new HIV infections by nearly 25 percent within the next 15 years, according to PhRMA.

Together, we can eradicate HIV/AIDS and World AIDS Day gives us the opportunity to reaffirm this commitment. What you can do:

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