LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - As part of World AIDS Day, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is recognizing the importance of public health workers and HIV networks in preventing and reducing HIV transmission in our state.
“Communities make the difference” is this year’s theme for World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. The observance will mark the 38th year of the first cases of HIV which garnered the world’s attention.
As of July 1, 16,306 people were estimated to be living with HIV in Michigan. Of the reported 16,306 cases, more than half have a diagnosis of AIDS. Men who have sex with men remain the group at highest risk for acquiring HIV and make up roughly 53 percent of all people living with HIV in Michigan. The highest rates of new HIV infections are occurring in Detroit and its surrounding counties.
MDHHS supports HIV/STD prevention services, risk reduction education and medical care services statewide, as well as training to support HIV and STD service providers.
“Reaching people living with HIV who do not know their status and ensuring that they are linked to quality care and prevention services is essential to ensuring they can lead healthy and productive lives,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS. “Our partners in public health and the HIV community are vital to testing, treatment and suppression of the HIV virus.”
MDHHS also promotes the Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U) campaign as an effective prevention strategy. Based on the research, a person living with HIV taking antiretroviral therapy as prescribed with an undetectable viral load in their blood sample for at least six months has a negligible risk of transmitting HIV sexually. Viral load refers to the amount of HIV in a blood sample of a person living with HIV. According to several studies, once an undetectable viral load is achieved, individuals cannot transmit HIV to their partners. Undetectable viral loads must be sustained over two viral load tests spanning six months apart and be monitored on an ongoing basis, with retesting every six months.
In recognition of World AIDS Day, many agencies and health departments across the state are hosting events in collaboration with MDHHS staff. Contact your local health department or AIDS Service Organization in your area for more information regarding these events.
On Monday, Dec. 2, the World AIDS Day Community Committee will present “Thriving Beyond the Red Ribbon” a free event open to the public. The event will take place at The Eastern, 3434 Russell St., Suite #501 in Detroit, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This annual event highlights the voice of the community and publicly recognizes individuals who champion HIV prevention and care efforts.
To find testing sites in your area, visit Gettested.cdc.gov or call 800-872-2437
For additional information, visit Michigan.gov/hivstd.