State to recognize World AIDS Day on Friday

DOVER — This Friday marks the 29th World AIDS Day, providing an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and raise awareness of the continuing epidemic around the globe.

This year’s theme is “Increasing Impact through Transparency, Accountability, and Partnerships,” said the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services. Several events are scheduled statewide in observance:

• Brandywine Counseling & Community Services – World AIDS Day Event (Anything but Clothes Fashion Show) Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center, Parlors B & C in Delaware State University

Anything But Clothes Fashion Show in recognition of World AIDS Day. Design an outfit made out of prevention messaging and risk-reduction materials such as condoms, dental dams, lube packets, female condoms, etc. Door and grand prizes of $300, $200, and $100. Free HIV testing and screenings via the COPE RV. Live DJ and free food.

• Camp Rehoboth – Candlelight Walk

Dec. 1 at 6:15 p.m.

The Candlelight Walk starts at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand in downtown Rehoboth. The Service is at All Saints Church in Rehoboth at 18 Olive Ave.
Candlelight vigil and walk. Reading of the names of those we have lost to AIDS followed by a community supper. Free HIV testing will be provided from 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Camp Rehoboth Community Center. The Candlelight Walk kicks off at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand at 6:15 p.m. The Service of Remembrance begins at 7 p.m.

Approximately 3,500 Delawareans are living with HIV/AIDS. The CDC estimates that another 350 to 400 Delawareans are HIV-positive but are not aware. These individuals pose a great risk of transmitting HIV since they may not take precautions before engaging in high-risk behaviors such as unprotected sex or needle sharing. This may also hold true for those who are aware of their infection, but are not receiving medical care. The Division of Public Health (DPH) encourages Delawareans to learn the facts about HIV, talk about the disease and take action.

Stigma, discrimination and misinformation surrounding HIV may remain a significant barrier to testing, treatment and prevention. HIV is not spread by hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilets, sharing utensils or closed-mouth (“social”) kissing with someone who is HIV positive. You cannot get HIV from consuming food handled by an HIV-infected person. HIV is not spread by mosquitoes, ticks or other insects.

Today’s HIV medications allow people to live longer, healthier lives. For those living with HIV, antiretroviral medications taken as prescribed will suppress HIV to undetectable levels in blood. At this level, HIV infected individuals may not transmit the disease to others. In Delaware, 81 percent of those in care are virally suppressed. Still, it remains important to use protective methods such as condoms to prevent the spread of other sexually transmitted diseases.

With HIV testing as a foundation, HIV-negative persons can link to prevention services to prevent HIV acquisition and transmission. One of the options now available is pre-exposure prophylaxis, (PrEP) which is available for those who are HIV negative, but unable to stop certain types of high-risk behavior. The PrEP pill, taken daily can prevent HIV infection. For a list of physicians prescribing PrEP, visit delawarehiv.org/delaware-prep/.

There are several sites in the state that offer free rapid HIV testing. For a list, visit gettested.cdc.gov/. For more information, call the Delaware Division of Public Health at (302) 744-1050.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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