New HIV Infections Could End in the United States in 30 Years
“Light to Unite” Campaign Calls for Increased Support During Challenging Times
Washington, DC—November 19, 2008
– When the CDC announced this summer that new HIV infections in the U.S. have been 40 percent higher annually than previously had been estimated, a key part of the equation was left out of the story: No vaccine or cure is in sight and, yet, new HIV infections are down from 130,000 annually from the peak of the epidemic with HIV prevention efforts having played a critical role in this reduction. By combining HIV prevention with access to treatment, we can virtually eliminate new HIV infections in 30 years.
It is this vision that spurs the annual public awareness and fundraising campaign that is the largest public-private partnership focused on increasing awareness about the U.S. epidemic on World AIDS Day. “Light to Unite” is a collaboration between the National AIDS Fund (NAF), the sixth largest domestic funder of HIV/AIDS services, and Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY), a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to extend and enhance human life through the development of medicines to treat serious diseases such as HIV. Light to Unite encourages individuals to get involved and make a difference in the struggle against HIV/AIDS.
Individuals can light a virtual candle online at www.LightToUnite.org while learning new facts about HIV/AIDS, and share their knowledge and personal experiences with others. Individuals can also make a donation to the National AIDS Fund on the website. One-hundred percent of the donated funds will be distributed to organizations that serve individuals and communities impacted by HIV/AIDS. Light to Unite events will also take place in communities nationwide. The Light to Unite campaign will run through December 31, 2008.
Through its Community Partnerships, the National AIDS Fund supports over 400 direct service organizations across the country that provide important services, such as HIV prevention programs, HIV testing, referrals to treatment, and supportive services. NAF provides Challenge Grants to its Community Partnerships who, in turn, triple each dollar by raising funds locally. “Light to Unite” donations will go toward organizations that serve individuals and communities most impacted by HIV/AIDS. In this economic environment, without NAF’s help, scores of people living with AIDS would be without food, housing, and treatment services, and many agencies providing prevention efforts could close.
In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- At least 56,300 people in the country are infected with HIV annually now—a number 40% higher than what was previously estimated although prevention has brought infections down from 130,000 a year since the height of the epidemic in the 1980s.
- Over 1.1 million individuals are living with HIV/AIDS.
- 50% of all new HIV infections are among those under age 25.
- Women now account for 25% of new HIV cases.
- African American adults and teens are nine times more likely than whites, to receive an AIDS diagnosis.
- Although Latinos represent approximately 15% of the U.S. population, they have been accounting for 19% of AIDS cases.
- The Southern U.S. accounts for 46% of all new AIDS cases.
“We—individuals, foundations, and corporations—have the power to set a different course,” said Kandy Ferree, president and CEO, the National AIDS Fund. “Collaborations like Light to Unite change lives by increasing awareness, reducing stigma, and directing resources to the communities most impacted by HIV/AIDS.”
“Fighting HIV is a team effort. For years, Bristol-Myers Squibb has been dedicated to working with organizations like the National AIDS Fund to help break down barriers to care for the HIV community and change the course of this epidemic. We’re committed to fighting HIV,” said Jill DeSimone, senior vice president of virology, Bristol-Myers Squibb.
About the National AIDS Fund