World AIDS Day To Be Observed December 1

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For the20th consecutive year, the world will come together to commemorate World AIDSDay on Saturday, Dec. 1. Minnesota will join other states and more than200 countries worldwide to proclaim that AIDS is still here and it still has nocure or vaccine.

Health officials report that more than 6,800 peopleworldwide are infected with HIV every day, and roughly 33.2 million people areestimated to be living with HIV or AIDS around the globe. Approximately 300 newcases are reported in Minnesota each year.

This year'stheme, "Take the Lead," is a reminder to political leaders, health careproviders and organizations about their commitment and challenge to take thelead in the fight against AIDS.
The World AIDS Campaign organization - the international sponsor forWorld AIDS Day - sets the international theme each year.

"World AIDSDay provides an opportunity for worldwide leaders to reflect on their progressto assure those infected and affected by HIV have access to prevention,screening, treatment and care programs," said Peter Carr, director of the STDand HIV Section, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). "It is also atime to call attention to our situation closer to home."

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Since 1982, more than 8,100 people in Minnesota have beendiagnosed with HIV infection, and over 2,800 of them have died. Currently, anestimated 5,566 people are reported to be living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota.For the last 10 years, about 300 new cases have been reported in the state eachyear, according to MDH.

"Wecontinue to see higher infection rates among our communities of color whencompared to whites," said Carr. "Statewide rates for African Americansand Latinos were nearly 11 and 9 times greater, respectively, than whites.Rates for African communities were over 20 times greater than for whites."

Healthofficials noted that higher rates among communities of color may be due to lowtesting rates among these communities. Without being tested, infectedpersons may have unknowingly infected others and may have missed years ofbeneficial treatments. Lower testing rates may be due to cultural and languagebarriers, social stigmas, racism, and limited access to health resources andcare.

World AIDS Day has been held annually since 1988 under thesponsorship of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and recently through the organization, World AIDSCampaign.

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