Last night I went uptown to attend the annual World AIDS Day commemoration that the Global HIV/AIDS Ministry holds at the Riverside Church. I was so humbled by all the amazing stories that were shared. It reminded me how proud I am to be a part of a community so dedicated to stopping the spread of HIV.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day, and although a lot has changed since 1988, much remains the same. New York City is still at the epicenter of the U.S. epidemic with more than 100,000 people living with HIV and AIDS, and nearly 3,000 new infections being diagnosed every year.
But what’s most concerning to me is that almost 1,000 of the New Yorkers newly diagnosed with HIV last year were already sick with AIDS when they were diagnosed. That means that for a decade these people were not getting the care and treatment they needed, and may have been unknowingly spreading the infection.
The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “Leadership.” The best way to be a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS is to know your status. I hope this day of remembrance inspires all New Yorkers to become leaders in the fight against AIDS – by getting tested for HIV.