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The last month of the year is not only full of parties and preparations, sales and races against the clock for finishing the purchases and completing the gift lists. World AIDS Day (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is also celebrated in December, and a month-long series of activities begins to spread information about the disease, raise awareness, and learn ways to prevent the spread.
December 1 is World AIDS Day because on that day, in 1981, the first case of the disease was diagnosed. Since that date, more than 25 million people have been victims of complications from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and although much progress has been made in treatment and prevention, much remains to be done to gain the battle that terrible epidemic. In the United States alone, in 2011, women and girls over the age of 13 made up 21% of the nearly 50,000 new cases of HIV infection that were predicted. On the other hand, the rate of affected Latina women is four times higher than that of white women.
There are many ways to express your solidarity with those who suffer from the disease and help increase awareness: from wearing a red ribbon, to taking walks or races and attending talks or informative meetings. But in addition to information, the celebration of the month of AIDS should serve as motivation to adopt a more active attitude about the risks that we and the people around us can take.
Facts you should know about AIDS
• It is transmitted through the blood, semen, or vaginal fluids of an infected person.
• 1 in 5 HIV-positive people do not know they have the virus and therefore do not receive treatment.
• Although anyone can have the disease, it is more common in gay and bisexual men.
• Recent discoveries include the healing of a child and the possible elimination of HIV through stem cell transplantation.