For Immediate Release
November 23, 2009

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

December 1 is World AIDS Day

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) will join with partners throughout Kansas in commemorating World AIDS Day on December 1.  The World Health Organization established World AIDS Day in 1988. World AIDS Day provides governments, national AIDS programs, faith organizations, community organizations, and individuals with an opportunity to raise awareness and focus attention on the global AIDS epidemic. More than 1 million Americans are estimated to be living with HIV. Worldwide, an estimated 33 million people are living with HIV.

“We encourage anyone who has had a risk for exposure to HIV to get tested, get educated and get treatment this World AIDS Day,” said L. William Lyons, director of the HIV/AIDS program at KDHE. “HIV testing is available in many places such as county health departments, community-based organizations and private providers.”

Early detection is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle if diagnosed with HIV.  Counseling and testing helps provide people with HIV/AIDS with the knowledge they need to protect their own health and that of their partners, and helps people who test negative get the information they need to stay uninfected. 

There are an estimated 4,000 cumulative HIV and AIDS cases in Kansas.  Of the cumulative AIDS cases, 19 percent are among blacks, 69.8 percent are among whites and 9 percent are among Hispanics. Of the cumulative HIV (not AIDS) cases, 26.4 percent are among African Americans, 57.4 percent are among whites, and 12.5 percent are among Hispanics.  African Americans comprise 6 percent of the state’s total population; Hispanics comprise 8.6 percent. Members of racial and ethnic communities may be at increased risk due to a variety of factors not limited to but including socioeconomic factors, access to healthcare and generally greater reluctance to be tested for HIV.

It is also estimated that 50 to 70 percent of new HIV infections are transmitted by those who are unaware of their infection. Early testing and diagnosis play a key role in reducing the spread of HIV. Persons at high risk for HIV infection should be screened annually.

Initiatives planned in recognition of World AIDS Day in Kansas include: