As we commemorate World AIDS Day 2017 on December 1, let us celebrate the significant achievements as well as reflect on what needs to be done to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since the first reported cases of the virus in the United States in 1983, scientist have made remarkable advancements in the preventive, treatment and care of the disease. Anti-retroviral medicines have made it possible for people living with HIV/AIDS to live long, healthy and prosperous lives and medicines like Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), for HIV negative persons who engage in high-risk sexual behavior, and Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), for those who may have been exposed to the virus, will significantly help in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Through the tireless work of persons living with HIV/AIDS, researchers, scientists as well as public campaigns and public interest, we have seen a nationwide decrease in new HIV cases as well as an increase in the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS. In the state of New York where there has been massive public policy action through the governor’s End AIDS Campaign, the state of New York has not only reduced the number of new HIV cases but also eliminated mother to child transfer of HIV virus in 2016.
However, remarkable these achievements have been, HIV/AIDS continues to be a major public health issue in the United States and across the globe. There is still no vaccine for the virus and thousands of people continue to be infected with the disease each year. The Center for Disease Control estimated that about 30,000 people in the United States will be infected with the disease annually. The African American population continue to be the group most affected by the disease. As we continue our fight to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, finding a vaccine for the virus must be prioritized above all else. As referenced in the medical article by Dr. Anthony Fauci, while there have been and there continue to be major advancements in HIV treatment drugs, “a safe and effective vaccine is essential if we are to realize a timely and sustained end of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.” Companies like Johnson & Johnson have undertaken this enormous endeavor with their announcement during the 2017 Global citizens festival in New York City of their intent to bring large-scale efficacy testing of the HIV vaccine in humans.
The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. (NBLCA) continues to be committed to the eradication of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and works to educate, mobilize, and empower black leaders to meet the challenge of fighting HIV/AIDS and other health disparities in their local communities. Join NBLCA this year as we commemorate World AIDS Day and let us work towards increasing impact through transparency, accountability, and partnerships.
For additional information about NBLCA, visit www.nblca.org.