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Event commemorates those who have died from AIDS illness

We’ve come a long way since the first HIV case was reported in 1981. Great progress has been made in preventing and treating HIV, but it continues to be a serious health risk in the U.S. That is why experts at Parkland Health & Hospital System are taking World AIDS Day as an opportunity to show their support for people living with HIV and to remind everyone the fight is still not over.

“HIV attacks the body’s immune system and if not treated, it can lead to AIDS,” said Amneris E. Luque, MD, Medical Director HIV Services at Parkland and Professor of Medicine/Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine, UT Southwestern Medical Center. “While there is currently no effective cure for HIV, with proper medical care you can get it under control.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2019, 36,801 people received an HIV diagnosis in the United States and dependent areas. The annual number of new diagnoses decreased by 9% from 2015 to 2019. However racial/ethnic minorities continue to be overrepresented among the new cases. In 2019, Black/African American people accounted for 42% (15,340) of all new HIV diagnoses. Additionally, Hispanic/Latino people are also strongly affected. They accounted for 29% (10,502) of all new HIV diagnoses.

The latest data from Dallas County Health & Human Services show in 2017 an estimated 18,073 people were living with HIV in Dallas County, representing an increase of 44% since 2008. From 2013 through 2016, 27% of all newly diagnosed persons in Dallas County progressed to a concurrent AIDS diagnosis within 12 months of initial HIV diagnosis.

Some people experience flu-like symptoms within 2 to 4 weeks after infection which last for a few days or several weeks. The CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care but people at higher risk should get tested more often.

“The best way to know if you have HIV is to get tested,” said Dr. Luque. “Knowing your HIV results will help you make healthy decisions and prevent getting or transmitting HIV. We encourage everyone on World AIDS Day to help reduce HIV stigma and get educated about prevention, testing and treatment.”

Parkland will commemorate World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 by offering information to patients on HIV such as testing, community resources, and HIV services at Parkland. The Parkland HIV Services Department sees about one third of the individuals living with HIV in the Dallas area. Free walk-in HIV testing is available at all Parkland HIV Clinic sites. For information on HIV testing, please call Parkland’s Prevention and Testing Office at 214-590-5748.

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