June HIV/AIDS Awareness Observances
Several important HIV/AIDS awareness observances occur in June, including the National HIV/AIDS Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day on June 5, National Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on June 8, and National HIV Testing Day on June 27. Each of these observances, and others throughout the year, are an opportunity to provide education on how far U.S. health care systems have come in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic and raise awareness on the work that remains to be done. Over 700,000 people in the U.S. have died from the HIV/AIDS epidemic since it began in the early 1980s. However, annual deaths have fallen from over 40,000 in the early 1990s to 5,040 in 2019.1 And the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that annual new infections have fallen by two-thirds since the mid-1980s.2 There are now more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. living with HIV/AIDS, and due to improvements in treatment and long-term care, many will experience long and healthy lives.3
Despite these successes, the U.S must continue to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The decline in new infections has stalled out over the past several years, and it is currently unknown what impact the COVID-19 pandemic may have had. Furthermore, testing for HIV is still not universal, and HHS estimates that as many as 1 in 7 people living with HIV may be unaware of it. The epidemic still disproportionately affects vulnerable populations who often face worse health outcomes than the general population, and HIV/AIDS can lead to additional complications in older adults.
Due to the close associations between substance use and HIV, substance use prevention professionals need to participate in HIV/AIDS observances and build collaborative relationships with HIV/AIDS stakeholder groups. Substance use and substance use disorders are major risk factors for the transmission of HIV. Many forms of substance use are linked to risky sexual behavior that can transmit the virus, and injection drug use can be a direct transmission route through shared needles, syringes, or other materials.4 Furthermore, HIV/AIDS can disproportionately affect vulnerable populations, which may also be disproportionately impacted by substance misuse.5 By supporting collaborative efforts, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. plan, there can be important opportunities for substance use prevention professionals and HIV/AIDS stakeholders to improve overall health and wellbeing. Prevention training and technical assistance on these and other topics are available through the Central East Prevention Technology Transfer Center.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Multiple Causes of Death: B20-B24, R75.
- HIV.gov (2021). Fast Facts. Available at https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/statistics
- HIV.gov (2021). Growing Older with HIV. Available at https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/living-well-with-hiv/taking-care-of-yourself/aging-with-hiv
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). HIV and Substance Use. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/hiv-transmission/substance-use.html
- HIV.gov (2021). What Is the Impact of HIV on Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the U.S.? Available at https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/impact-on-racial-and-ethnic-minorities