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Gains in HIV prevention still elude Latino communities on 21st observance of World AIDS Day

Gains in HIV prevention still elude Latino communities on 21st observance of World AIDS Day

LatinaLista -- Next year, it will be 30 years that the world has lived with AIDS. Discovered in 1981, the disease, that doesn't discriminate but relies on people being lazy about protecting themselves, has claimed 30 million lives since its discovery.

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But finally, there's good news!

According to the recently released UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2010, new infections and AIDS-related deaths are decreasing. Among young people in 15 of the most severely affected countries, there is a 25 percent reduction in HIV prevalence.

However, as anyone who works in this field will say, the work is far from complete -- 10 million people still in need of treatment don't have access; 2.5 million children under the age of 15 live with HIV; total number of children, ages 0-17, who have lost their parents due to HIV increased to 16.6 million; and less than half of the countries reporting have a HIV program for women.

Within the Latino community, the news remains grim. According to the Latino Commission on AIDS:

In 2006, Hispanics comprised 15% of the U.S. population or 44.3 million people, yet represented 18% of the HIV/AIDS cases that same year, among 33 states with a name-based reporting, excluding Puerto Rico. Among Hispanics/Latinos, males had a higher AIDS rate (per 100,000) of 31.3, than females, 9.5.

Hispanic/Latino teens aged 13-19 accounted for 19% of AIDS cases among U.S. teens in 2006 although they represented 17% of the U.S. teen population that same year.

While awareness for HIV/AIDS is ongoing throughout the year, there is one day that the world comes together to reflect on how far the global community has come combatting the disease and what more needs to be done.

Tomorrow, December 1, is that day, otherwise known as the annual  World AIDS Day. The theme for this year's observation is "Light for Rights" to draw attention to HIV and human rights.

The Light For Rights campaign strives to encourage people in cities around the world to dim the lights on key landmarks to remember the devastating affect AIDS has had on us all, and to turn back on the lights to illuminate the fundamental rights we all share.

President Obama will observe World AIDS Day with a special White House event where he will address the nation's future course in fighting against the disease, along with, hosting a panel discussion with HIV/AIDS researchers and advocates.

The event is slated to begin at 1:30 p.m. EST and will be livestreamed at the White House web site.


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