December 1, 2015

December 1 was my husband’s 72nd birthday. It marked 332 birthdays that we have celebrated together. That is hard to believe. December 1 is his birthday but it is also World Aids Day. The first World Aids Day was Dec 1, 1988 which was 27 years ago. I witnessed the first documented case in our hospital in 1983 when I was a resident. Five years later during my Family Medicine residency, we would diagnose many cases in men, women and children. My residency and pediatrics rotation provided an opportunity to unfortunately hospitalize several children who had AIDS. I provided care to many patients and watched too many of them die over a period of 12 years.

It is difficult for new physicians to understand how we all become so involved in the care of patients who had AIDS.  I was the only provider who was willing or trained  to care for my patients until I was joined by another colleague who shared my passion.

Now,  despite all the new information that we have to prevent infection, there are a rising number of new HIV infections in young African American and Hispanic males. This can also lead to an increase in infections in women. The irony is that we relaxed the push to get information out there to this group. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), African Americans represent approximately 12% of the U.S. population, but accounted for an estimated 44% of new HIV infections in 2010. Also, Hispanics/Latinos represented 16% of the population but accounted for 21% of new HIV infections in 2010. Of those living with HIV in 2009, Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 19% and Blacks accounted for 44%. Sadly in 2010, the greatest number of new HIV infections (4,800) among MSM (men who have sex with men) occurred in young black/African American MSM aged 13–24. Young black MSM accounted for 45% of new HIV infections among black MSM and 55% of new HIV infections among young MSM overall. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/statistics.html

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I now only provide primary care to patients who have HIV/AIDS but I do know that I will be diagnosing and referring new patients for treatment. I am recommitted by these statistics to get the news out to a new generation. Safe sex through use of condoms is essential to prevention. However, the sad truth is that 1 in 6 people with HIV do not know they have been infected. Getting tested is important. Let’s get the information out there. For more information http://www.itsyoursexlife.com/gyt/hiv-aids/

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