By Jacki Post Ashkin, LCSW-C
December 1 is World AIDS Day. It is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV, and to honor those who have died. But it should also be a time to recognize that none of us is immune from becoming infected and to take a hard look at how we might be putting ourselves at risk.
Consider the facts:
- Today, 327,000 people over 50 in the United States have AIDS.
- In the U.S, between 2010-2016, the annual number of HIV infections decreased among persons aged 13–24 and 45–54, while they increased among persons aged 25–34.
- In 2017, Black gay and bisexual men accounted for the largest number of HIV diagnoses (9,807), followed by Hispanic/Latinos (7,436) and whites (6,982). Heterosexual white women were the least infected group at 999 new HIV diagnoses, according to the CDC.
In the next 24 hours, as you look at the people you pass on your commute to work or see at the local bar during happy hour, ask yourself a few questions:
- Could they be living with HIV?
- What if I was living with HIV, how would that impact my life?
You can learn more about how to prevent becoming infected and how to cope with living with HIV by visiting https://www.hiv.gov/.
Each of us should take precautions and protect ourselves so that we won’t become part of the statistics.
Jacki Post Ashkin, LCSW-C is the Director of Community Connections at Jewish Community Services.
JCS provides high quality, interactive educational programs that increase knowledge and awareness about factors that can impact physical, emotional and behavior health while helping children, teens, and adults develop skills that promote healthy decision making, enhance wellbeing, and build resilience.