Because it can take years after exposure for symptoms to develop, many people who are infected with the virus that causes AIDS don't even realize it. More than one million people in the United States are estimated to be living with HIV, and approximately one in five people with HIV are unaware they're infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To promote access to testing and counseling, the Cincinnati Health Department will offer free, confidential testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) on World AIDS Day. The testing will occur 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday at the Ambrose H. Clement Health Center. The facility is located at 3101 Burnet Ave., in Avondale. Walk-ins are welcome.
The HIV test is a simple, painless procedure and results are available within 20 minutes, organizers said.
Begun in 1988, World AIDS Day was created by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness about the disease, commemorate those who died, and celebrate increased access to treatment and prevention services. This year's theme is "Universal Access and Human Rights," and global leaders have pledged to work toward universal access to HIV and AIDS treatment, prevention and care, recognizing these as fundamental human rights, according to WHO.
"The protection of human rights is fundamental to combating the global HIV and AIDS epidemic," WHO leaders said in a prepared statement. "Violations against human rights fuel the spread of HIV, putting marginalised groups, such as injecting drug users and sex workers at a higher risk of HIV infection. By promoting individual human rights, new infections can be prevented and people who have HIV can live free from discrimination."
AIDS has killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007, and an estimated 33.2 million people worldwide live with HIV as of 2007, United Nations statistics show. An estimated 2 million people died from the illness in 2007, including about 270,000 children.