HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, harms the immune system by destroying the white blood cells that fight infections. It’s most often spread through unprotected sex, but it is also spread through sharing needles or coming into contact with blood of an infected person.
While annual HIV infections and diagnoses are declining, progress has been uneven, and in some populations, increasing according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). World AIDS Day is observed to unite people worldwide in the fight against AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency virus – the final stage of HIV infection), show support for those living with HIV, and remember people who have died from an AIDS-related illness.
In the South Central Region, at least one of our states has a particular high rate of HIV diagnoses per 100,000 people according to a 2016 CDC report:
While there is no cure, there are medicines that can fight or prevent infection. For instance, pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is given to those at a very high risk for HIV. It can reduce risk from sex by more than 90% and risk from needs by over 70%.