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World AIDS Day


December 1 is World AIDS Day, a day to acknowledge our progress in HIV prevention and treatment around the world and renew our commitment to a future free of HIV. This year’s theme, Increasing Impact through Transparency, Accountability, and Partnerships” , calls leaders to strengthen their commitment to using evidence-based HIV interventions, prevention tools, and testing efforts to help us stop HIV. You can find resources to help promote World AIDS Day here.   To learn more about what Spectrum Health Services is doing to address HIV/AIDS prevention, click here. 

Since the first AIDS case was diagnosed in 1981, over 600,000 Americans have died of AIDS, more than all the U.S. combat deaths since the beginning of World War I. 
And while recent advances in medicine and new treatments have made it possible for many people living with HIV/AIDS to live longer lives, public health officials have confirmed that a general perception that HIV is no longer a serious threat has led to increased infection rates in the U.S. 


HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and breaks down a person’s immune system.  When our immune systems become compromised, we lose our ability to fight off illness and infection. 
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the name of the life-threatening disease that people with the HIV virus have if they develop one of the infections connected with HIV, or if blood tests show that their immune system has been badly damaged by the virus. 
HIV can be transmitted from person to person when certain body fluids (blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breast milk) from an infected person pass into another’s body.  There are three main ways that this can be done:

  • by having unprotected sex
  • by sharing needles
  • from mother to child at birth or through breastfeeding

HIV is absolutely not transmitted through casual contact.  It is safe to hold hands, kiss, and work with someone who has HIV or AIDS.  Since HIV cannot live outside the human body, you cannot be infected from toilet seats, phones, or water fountains.  The virus also cannot be transmitted through the air by sneezing or coughing.
Although there have been many recent advances in HIV/AIDS treatment and medication since the 1980s, there is still no cure.


Globally, an estimated 36.7 million persons are living with HIV/AIDS. Each year, more than 1 million people die from AIDS-related causes and 2.1 million people become newly infected by HIV. As a key implementing agency of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) , CDC works side by side with Ministries of Health, community groups, and other partners in more than 50 countries to combat HIV, and ultimately, bring an end to the epidemic worldwide.

  • There are an estimated 30,000 people living with HIV in the Greater Philadelphia Region (Philadelphia Department of Health)
  • Philadelphians are being infected at a rate FIVE TIMES the national average, and are being infected at a rate more than 50% higher than residents of New York City.

CDC brings the power of scientific expertise and on-the-ground experience to deliver sustainable prevention, treatment, and care to millions of people in countries most affected by HIV and tuberculosis (TB). 

Today, on World AIDS Day (December 1, 2017), we urge you to not only read the statistics, but to feel them. They represent the thousands of our residents who deserve a chance to hold their heads high and live prosperous lives while affecting change in our community.