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2018 World AIDS Day

(CHCC) — December 1 marked 30 years since the inception of World AIDS Day as the first ever global health day.

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A view of signs at AIDS Healthcare Foundations Keep the Promise March in Hollywood, Calif. on Nov. 30, 2016.  Araya Diaz/Getty Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation

It’s an opportunity to recommit to the global fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to remember those who have died from AIDS or AIDS-related illnesses. More than 35 million people have died of AIDS or AID-related illnesses, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history since being discovered in 1984.

This year’s theme for World AIDS Day, was “Know your status.”  Today, three in four people living with HIV know their status, empowering people to make choices about prevention so they can protect themselves and their loved ones, link to quality care and prevention services, and lead healthy and productive lives. 

Since 1997, CNMI has recorded 44 cases of HIV. Of these, 5 are known to have passed away.  Dr. James U. Hofschneider, CHCC’s primary HIV physician, recently reflected on his three-decade history fighting the epidemic: “I’ve seen the face of HIV — the face of death.  And now we see a face of life. Really when you compare [the epidemic] to the 1980s, if you get HIV, it’s a death sentence.  In 2018, it’s a life.  You just have to take your medicine, you know, that’s the difference. It’s amazing how much 1 pill can make a difference, if you take it.  For me right now, it’s easier for a clinician to take care of a patient with HIV than diabetes because of all of these other [medical] issues involved.”

Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are programs and laws to support and protect people living with HIV. Despite this, people in the CNMI continue to be diagnosed with HIV; stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV/AIDS.   

World AIDS Day reminds us that it is still very important to protect yourself, increase awareness and improve education of HIV/AIDS, fight discrimination against HIV/AIDS, and support prevention and treatment programs.

For more information about testing services and treatment, call the HIV/STD Prevention Program at 664-4050.