AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, commemorated World AIDS Day on Tuesday, December 1st through dozens of free HIV awareness and testing events throughout US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia. The organization also celebrated reaching the milestone that as of November 13th, AHF is providing lifesaving HIV/AIDS medical care and services to 502,237 patients in 36 countries. Over half of these patients reside in South Africa, the nation with the largest population of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Amber Rose, actors Vivian Lamolli and Oskar Rodriguez of Hulu’s East Los High, and choreographer Debbie Allen were among guests who attended AHF’s Los Angeles reception and film screening at the ArcLight Theater in Hollywood. At the event, Tina Campbell of Grammy award-winning gospel duo Mary Mary performed a live debut of the 2015 World AIDS Day anthem I Dream following the screening of the AHF-produced documentary film AHF: The Road to 500,000. A similar screening event was held on December 2nd at The Classic Gateway Theater in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
“500,000 patients in care is one of the greatest accomplishments in the 28-year history of AHF,” continued Weinstein. “Just two years ago, we celebrated 250,000 patients in care. To now reach over twice that number of lives is incredible. We celebrate today, and as we carry on, I am confident that the leadership of AHF’s domestic and global programs has the capability, and the will, to take us to one million lives in care over the next five years.”
According to the World Health Organization, there are about 36.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS globally. In 2014, 2 million people became newly infected with HIV. In recent years, access to lifesaving antiretroviral therapy (ART) has expanded and now 15.8 million people around the world are receiving it. However, access to HIV testing and early diagnosis of the disease remains a critical gap in the global response to AIDS. WHO estimates that currently only about 53% of people with HIV know their status.
In the United States, African-Americans are the most affected by HIV/AIDS and the new HIV infection rate is eight times higher among African-Americans than whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2012, African Americans had the largest percentage (47%) of the estimated 47,989 diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States. Among Los Angeles County residents who were newly diagnosed with HIV infection in 2011, Latinos represented the largest racial/ethnic group (47%), followed by whites (23%), and African-Americans (22%).
“At home and in countries all around the world, AHF is working to expand access to prevention and treatment for HIV/AIDS so that we can reduce the gap in people who are positive and don’t know it,” continued Weinstein. “We are now reaching over half-a-million men, women and children with lifesaving medical care in thirty-six countries around the world—a remarkable accomplishment that only a great team of patients, medical providers, staff and volunteers could have made possible.”