U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) released the following statement today marking the 24th anniversary of World AIDS Day, which is observed each year on December 1.
"Pausing to mark World AIDS Day each year gives us an opportunity not only to remember those we've lost to AIDS, but to recommit ourselves to wiping out this terrible disease. There are 34 million people currently infected around the world, including more than 3,600 Delawareans, so we must continue to work together to prevent the spread of this disease. While medical breakthroughs allow those living with HIV to live long, productive lives, we must remain vigilant about the impact of the disease and simple, effective preventive measures that can lead to the ultimate goal of ending the spread of HIV and AIDS in our lifetime.
"The United States has made tremendous strides in combatting the spread of HIV/AIDS under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) created by President Bush and expanded by President Obama, and today, we are poised to make landmark progress. In the last year alone, the U.S. supported life-saving antiretroviral treatments for more than 3.9 million people, averting 200,000 infant HIV infections, and providing care for nearly 13 million people -- including more than 4.1 million orphans and vulnerable children. I applaud President Obama for his leadership on this issue, and for setting ambitious new goals to further reduce the rate of new infections in coming years.
"The most important thing Delawareans can do right now to protect themselves against AIDS is get tested and, if necessary, get the medical attention they need. Getting tested is fast, easy, and often times, free. To find a testing location near you, visit www.hivtest.org. To set up treatment at a center with no waiting list, call the Delaware HIV Consortium at 302-657-5471."
Senator Coons is chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs and a member of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus.