Boston – Today, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) will join the Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury and community members to recognize World AIDS Day 2013. The event is an opportunity to celebrate the memories of lives lost and the lives of those who are still fighting the disease. Partners from across the city working on HIV/AIDS issues will have a chance to learn about how organizations such as Whittier Street are “Getting to Zero,” the theme of World AIDS Day that aspires to eliminate HIV infections, discrimination, and AIDS-related deaths.
TODAY! Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Whittier Street Health Center, 1290 Tremont Street, Boston
Thirty-two years since the first case of AIDS was reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization estimates that over 36 million people have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. Despite significant advancements in treatment and prevention methods, over 5,500 people are currently living with HIV in Boston, and many more are still being infected.
The downward trend in the number of HIV cases diagnosed in Boston is an encouraging sign, however. In 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 196 diagnosed cases in the city, dramatically lower than the 372 cases diagnosed in 2000. While there has been some year-to-year fluctuation in the data, cases have decreased over the past decade.
“It’s undeniable that prevention and treatment have improved by leaps and bounds in the last generation, but HIV/AIDS still alters thousands of lives here in Boston,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Executive Director of BPHC. “We’re fortunate to have such a passionate network of partners that are working day in and day out to make the goal of getting to zero a reality. World AIDS Day offers us a chance to come together to highlight our successes, but more importantly to remind people of the important work that remains.”
People of color and men who have sex with men (who may or may not identify as gay or bisexual) are disproportionally affected. Of the 196 cases of HIV diagnosed in Boston in 2011, 68% were Black or Latino and 47% were men who have sex with men.
In honor of World AIDS Day, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) would like to recognize the health centers, hospitals, and other community-based organizations that are working on Getting to Zero. Since 2000, BPHC has allocated more than $20 million to organizations in Boston that provide community-based education and outreach about HIV/AIDS. In the past year alone, these organizations have provided life-saving harm reduction information to 40,000 Bostonians. Through individual or group interventions, street outreach, and community events, BPHC’s partner organizations distributed 17,000 pieces of educational material and 300,000 condoms in 2013.
The BPHC HIV/AIDS Services Division, with funding from the federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act, received and allocated over $13 million this year to organizations in the Boston metropolitan area. These organizations are funded to develop and enhance access to high quality, community-based care for low-income individuals and families living with HIV. Reaching over 7,000 people living with HIV annually, 91% of clients served through the division are on antiretroviral therapy. This treatment results in reduced viral loads and decreased transmission, which allows people with HIV to live long, healthy lives.
To learn more about HIV/AIDS, visit www.bphc.org/AIDS.