"Working Together for an AIDS-Free Generation" is the theme for World AIDS Day this year. World AIDS Day is observed every December 1 to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.
AIDS is one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. The first cases of AIDS were reported more than 30 years ago. Even though access to anti-retroviral treatment and care has improved in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007.
Since 2007 an estimated 33.2 million people worldwide live with HIV. Nearly one in every five people living with HIV in the U.S. doesn’t even know it.
What is HIV? HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that attacks the body's immune system. The body's immune system is our defense against diseases.
HIV can be passed through infected bodily fluids, most commonly by sex without a condom, sharing infected needles (tattoo needles included), syringes or other drug injecting devices.
More than 60 percent of youth with HIV don’t know they are infected. They unknowingly pass HIV to others and put themselves at risk for an early death. About 1 in 4 (26 percent) of all new HIV infections are among youth ages 13 to 24 years old.
Because our youth is at the highest risk they should be taught early about HIV prevention through sex education. Education begins at home, in schools and community programs. Youth can choose to abstain from sex, limit sex partners and use a condom every time if they are sexually active.
Education, prevention and testing are keys to facing AIDS.
Testing is the first step to getting medical care and treatment that can save lives and prevent the spread of HIV. Youth at risk need to know where to go to get a confidential HIV test. Currently, there is no vaccine and no cure for HIV.
Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1 and 2, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saddleback Church will be providing free, confidential HIV testing for the community. Testing will be at the PEACE Community Resource Center, 1 Purpose Dr., Lake Forest, CA 92630. For more information, please call Bill Mugford at 949-609-8295.