San Diego Marks World AIDS Day As Officials Target End Of HIV Epidemic
December 1, 2016 11:12 a.m.
World AIDS Day has been observed since 1988 to raise awareness about the disease. San Diego officials say now, more than three decades after the HIV epidemic was first identified, society has the medical tools to end it.
Our top story a Mid-Day Edition, there is news to celebrate on this world AIDS day. The World Health Organization says fewer people died of AIDS related illnesses last year than in any of the previous 20 years. The number of new HIV infections is down. However, worldwide it is estimated about 40% of people infected with the virus don't know it. Raising awareness about getting tested for HIV as one of the goals of the world AIDS Day of event at UC San Diego. Panels will also focus on living with HIV and how different communities within San Diego and Tijuana are working of prevention. Joining me and Shawn Travers. Director of the LGBT resource Center at UC San Diego and chair of UCSD world AIDS Day planning committee. Shot, welcome.
Thank you, Maureen.
The San Diego sure that international good news? Is the number of AJ the infections down here?
It is. It's wonderful that that's happening in the United States and we reflect that here in San Diego County as well.
Which communities are seeing the highest rates of new infections?
It's among the black community and then the Latino community. The white communities come in third.
People will be talking about living with HIV. How is HIV treated long-term now and what kind of quality of life can HIV positive people expect quick
We have medications available now to people living with HIV that can give them a full complete life. It is a very wonderful time in our society when we can serve those that are living with HIV and know that they are most likely not going to die from AIDS in the ways that we saw in the 1989, 1990. When many people thought it was a death sentence.
In the early days of living with HIV, patients had a drug protocol that was very taxing. Has happened streamlined now?
It absolutely has. It's not a matter of taking a pill every hour on the hour and sometimes two or three till. That was part of the regimen as we were figuring out what we can do to combat HIV. Is much more likely that you're taking one or two pills over the course of the day and that you're paying attention to your own body and paying attention to what you need to do in terms of your health to live a full and complete life. That makes a huge difference in the quality of life for so many here in San Diego.
I know that a panel will be talking about the HIV of prevention pill called prep. How does that work?
It is a once a day pill that a person takes if they do not have HIV. If they are HIV-negative. It provides 99% effectiveness in preventing them from becoming HIV-positive. It is a powerful way that people can control their own risks or exposure to HIV. Meant that are at risk of men that have sex with men. There are people that are at risk that are injection drug users. Those populations really are met -- served well by prep. It's easy to get on. The San Diego LGBT Community Center in Hillcrest is a site folks can go to to find out how they can access prep. Many insurance companies pay for the struck with just your typical co-pay. It is changing the lives of a lot of people.
What challenges do we face as a border community and fighting HIV AIDS?
The rates of infection for our Latino community are higher than those in the overall population. We have to think about how do we provide culturally competent care? How do we provide care in Spanish? How do we provide care that really addresses the unique needs of a border population? We are looking into the research of that here at UC San Diego. At the San Diego LGBT community center there are services which are a specific program that helps folks part of the Latino community navigate what it might mean to be HIV positive and how they might want to access health care. Also how families might be able to support their brothers, sons, uncles and fathers that are living with HIV. It is it an entire community effort to make sure the folks have access to the information they need to prevent HIV infections and that includes things like crap and condoms, of course. For those who are diagnosed with HIV, they can get the care that they need and they can get on the medications to make sure that their risk of transmitting the disease does down to zero.
Shot, I'm wondering for you if this is the day of remembering as well as a day of looking forward to better days and perhaps a world without HIV quick
It absolutely is. All things happened simultaneously. There will be many tears shed today is people look at the AIDS Memorial quilt. This year we have sections of the quilt that have the names of some of the men that saying in the San Diego Gay men's chorus the past away from AIDS. We can look at those names and remember those lives and we can no how deeply AIDS has impacted our entire community. But in particular, Arce bisexual and trans community. Tears will be shed and memories will be had but at the same time we will be thinking about education. Education of our students here at UC San Diego, our faculty, staff and graduates and about what they can do to make a difference. We got scientist and researchers and students working on the very important basic science of this disease. We've got lots of young people that are learning about what it means for them to make good choices in protecting themselves. Condoms, prep or other ways they can support people learning about HIV and AIDS.
I've been speaking with Shawn Travers. John, thank you so much.