SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– Worldwide roughly 37 million people are currently living with the HIV or AIDS. Roughly 13 thousand people die from the AIDS virus each year here in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control.
World AIDS Day is now held every December first to raise awareness about the global AIDS pandemic and to honor those who have died from the virus.
“The important thing is to really get people to know their status and if the test were to come back positive really linking them into medical services,” Nellie Maldonado, supervisor at Tapestry Health in Springfield, told 22News.
Tapestry Health, a local organization, offers free screenings here in Western Mass. and says education and awareness has helped reduce the spread of HIV, the infection that leads to the AIDS virus.
Dr. Daniel Skiest, the Chief of Infectious Disease at Baystate Medical Center told 22News is that awareness that has also been a key factor in keeping people with HIV alive and living longer.
“To increase awareness of people that they may have HIV and to get them diagnosed early. If we diagnose people early we can prevent HIV from going into AIDS and keep health longer for periods of time,” Dr. Skiest said.
He also told 22News that over the last 20 years research and development of certain medications has allowed people better manage and live with HIV, but there is still no cure.