December 1 is World Aids Day and the Kaiser Family Foundation is working hard for people to take notice. The Foundation announced that Greater Than AIDS, a national movement supported by a broad coalition of public and private sector partners, received significant new commitments in response to the AIDS crisis in America with a focus on those most affected by the disease. The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Walgreens join with leading media, state and local health departments, and community organizations to increase knowledge and understanding about HIV/AIDS and confront the stigma that surrounds the disease.
“From the largest digital billboard in Times Square to the hardwood courts of the NBA and the WNBA, Greater Than AIDS partners are showing new leadership in stemming the spread of HIV,” said Drew Altman, President and CEO of the Menlo Park-based Kaiser Family Foundation, which provides strategic guidance and day-to-day management for Greater Than AIDS. He added, “This is an unprecedented collaboration of private and public sector partners united in response to a public health challenge.”
Next year marks 30 years since the first case of HIV was diagnosed. More than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV today, and at least half a million more have died of AIDS. One in two of those infected with HIV today are Black Americans far surpassing any other racial or ethnic group. Men who have sex with men of all races represent the most heavily affected group, and the only population for which HIV rates are on the rise again. HIV/AIDS is a deeply personal issue with 43% of all Americans today – and nearly 60% of Black Americans – now knowing someone who is living with or has died from the disease, for many a family member or close friend, according to a national survey on HIV/AIDS conducted by the Foundation.
HIV/AIDS is both preventable and treatable – early diagnosis and care helps those with the disease live longer and healthier lives. Yet, one in five Americans living with HIV today does not know it. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) identifies stigma as a major contributor to the spread of HIV, keeping people from seeking information, speaking openly, using protection, getting tested and treated and otherwise acting to protect themselves and those they love.