In observance of World AIDS Day on December 1, 2007, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) will focus on addressing the impact of the AIDS pandemic on New Jersey by participating in several events throughout the state.
"HIV/AIDS is a significant problem globally and in New Jersey, and I am proud to work with so many dedicated partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS," said DHSS Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. "Our combined efforts of prevention and treatment are reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS in New Jersey, and dramatically reducing the illness and death rates. We must continue to work together with our community leaders to help those living with HIV/AIDS to have productive and healthy lives.”
On Wednesday November 28, the City of Trenton will conduct a reading of names on the steps of City Hall at noon.
On Friday, November 30, the Department and the City of Trenton will be co-sponsoring a program at the Mt. Zion AME church at 6 p.m. The program is part of the Department’s Project FAITH program, which uses community faith-based leaders to help utilize their leadership in communicating culturally sensitive messages regarding changing behaviors that could lead to decreased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
The Rev. J. Stanley Justice will convene the program that will include the reading of names, and presentations by several local speakers.
Earlier that day, the Project IMPACT health van will be conducting rapid HIV testing at the Trenton Central High School. Project IMPACT is a DHSS initiative that partners existing state and local resources to raise the level of HIV/AIDS awareness as a public health concern, encourage changing behaviors that are risk factors in contracting HIV/AIDS and encouraging prevention activities such as Rapid HIV Testing.
Trinity Cathedral in Trenton will conduct a reading of names during their 10:30 a.m. Eucharist Service on Sunday, December 2. Panels of the AIDS quilt will be on display, and there will be several local HIV providers and vendors on hand to promote services.
DHSS is also involved in co-sponsoring two other events outside of Trenton, both of which will take place on Friday, November 30.
In Chiselhurst (Camden County), Project Rebuild will hold its annual World AIDS Day/Family Recognition Breakfast at 10:00 a.m. Project Rebuild is a structured intervention program designed to combat community epidemics by focusing on the family rather than on the individual. Project Rebuild incorporates the use of communication and free expression as a way to help a family facilitate discussion of HIV and reducing risk behaviors. Project Rebuild consists of a 12-week program that focuses on “life skills.”
In Newark, the second annual World AIDS Day Extravaganza will be held at Symphony Hall at 4:00 p.m. Families participating in the Project Rebuild series of workshops will be formally recognized for their involvement.
World AIDS Day was established in 1988 as a day to focus attention on the on-going devastation that HIV/AIDS continues to have throughout the world. It is a day for observation, commemoration and more importantly, action.
The World AIDS Day campaign has adopted the slogan "Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise" as its working motto. The theme for the 2007 World AIDS Day commemoration is "leadership", and highlights the need for innovation, vision and perseverance in the face of the HIV/AIDS challenge. This year's campaign calls on all sectors of society to take the initiative and action to provide leadership in responding to the global HIV pandemic.
One of the most important weapons New Jersey has in the fight against HIV/AIDS is the Rapid HIV testing program. The Rapid HIV test is important in decreasing the spread of HIV because it overcomes a major obstacle in HIV testing. Getting the results in 20 minutes means people no longer have to wait one or two weeks and return to the testing site to receive their results.
In 2003, before Rapid HIV testing was available, New Jersey’s publicly funded counseling and testing sites performed 67,941 HIV tests. Of those, 23,230 people—or 34 percent—never returned to the testing site for the results. Since Rapid testing has been available in New Jersey’s publicly funded counseling and testing sites 129,856 persons have been tested.
With the Rapid HIV test, clients receive their results 99.3 percent of the time. As a result, more than 25,000 additional New Jerseyans learned their HIV status.
"The race, ethnic and gender disparities with regard to HIV/AIDS in New Jersey and the United States are unacceptable, and the first step is to ensure everyone knows their HIV status," said Dr. Jacobs. "DHSS is working with our partners in communities disproportionately hit by HIV/AIDS to encourage people to get a Rapid HIV test to learn their status, and get counseling and treatment if necessary."
Throughout the world, more than 40 million people live with HIV/AIDS and more than 25 million people have died since the syndrome was identified in 1981. Worldwide, more than 8,000 people die from HIV/AIDS daily and 14,000 become infected.
New Jersey ranks fifth among the states with more than 70,000 cumulative cases since 1981, and has the highest percentage of women who have the disease. While there has been great success in curbing new cases of pediatric AIDS, New Jersey ranks third in cumulative cases. Sexual contact and intravenous drug use continue to be the primary causes of new infections.
Currently there are approximately 34,000 people living with HIV or AIDS in New Jersey, and more than 78 percent of these are African-American or Latino.