Prince William County proclaims December 2021 HIV / AIDS Awareness Month:

Provided by Prince William County

For the past 40 years, there has been an ongoing pandemic in the United States, predating COVID-19.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that compromises a person’s immune system and their ability to fight infections by targeting, among other things, T cells, which are part of the body’s natural immune response. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a more advanced stage of HIV that further compromises the body’s ability to fight infections and cancer, often resulting in death.

It is estimated that more than 75 million people have been infected with HIV and more than 32 million people have died worldwide from AIDS-related causes since the start of the HIV / AIDS epidemic. As of 2020, Prince William County had over 1,000 residents living with HIV / AIDS, with more than 40 newly diagnosed patients per year.

Despite these discouraging statistics, people living with HIV / AIDS are now living longer and more fully thanks to new drugs, management techniques and organizations put in place to help people living with or at risk of HIV / AIDS. . One of these organizations is the Juniper program, managed by INOVA. The Juniper program has offices in Dumfries and Manassas and is the largest HIV / AIDS care provider in Northern Virginia. The Juniper program provides all aspects of primary medical and mental health care, addiction, and case management services to people with HIV and has a history of providing clinical and educational services on HIV / AIDS.

Slow but measurable progress has also been made in the fight against HIV transmission. These advances include the discovery that “Undetectable = non-communicable,” which means that a person on HIV treatment who achieves an undetectable viral status is not at risk of transmitting the virus to an uninfected person, a concept and method. treatment goal that ultimately helps prevent the spread of HIV. In addition, many new and proven prevention strategies limit a person’s exposure to HIV. These include taking drugs designed to reduce the risk of transmission called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), using condoms, limiting or withholding intimate partnerships, and reducing or abstaining from use. of injection drugs.

Like many other services, the COVID-19 pandemic has undermined the HIV / AIDS response in many ways, including the decline in HIV testing and fewer people seeking HIV treatment in 2020.

With all of this in mind, Prince William County has declared December 2021 to be HIV / AIDS Awareness Month. The community is encouraged to recognize those individuals who are actively fighting this disease and to keep those who have lost their lives to HIV / AIDS in our collective memory.

Citizens are also encouraged to know their status and seek more information and resources on disease prevention.

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