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Today is World AIDS Day

December 1, 2008 |  4:58 pm

AIDS ribbon kite

Today is the 20th anniversary of the first World AIDS Day back in 1988. Worldwide, around 33 million people are infected with the virus -- an earlier estimate of 40 million was downgraded by the United Nations in its most recent report, due to revised sampling methods.

There were 2.7 million new infections in 2007 (the stats on which the report is based), and 2 million died of the virus. More than 1 million people are infected with HIV in the United States.

Around the Web:

Read the UNAIDS 2008 report on the global AIDS epidemic here. (The reports are published every two years.)

Here, at cnn.com, are remarks by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci notes that on the first World Aids Day in 1988, there was only one drug for treating those infected with the virus -- AZT -- and HIV fast became resistant to it. Now, Fauci notes, there are two dozen drugs that are taken in various combinations (reducing the chances that HIV will develop resistance.) Fauci notes that this makes it possible for people to live normal lives for at least a decade and maybe even live normal lifespans.

But Fauci notes that the drugs must be made available to far more people throughout the world -- less than one-third of people infected with the virus "in low- and middle-income countries" are getting these drugs, he notes.

And he adds that in this country "more than one-fifth of people living with HIV are unaware of their infection and not receiving appropriate care for their own health or the prevention services that would help them avoid transmitting the virus to others."

He notes that the work to find a vaccine -- so far, unsuccessful -- must continue. Here's an article about that frustrating quest.   

To honor World AIDS Day, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation coordinated a "One million tests" campaign--for 1 million free HIV tests to be offered around the globe between Nov. 26 and Dec. 1. You can read about its progress here

For lots of information about HIV and AIDS, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, here.

In honor of World AIDS Day, the American College of Physicians today issued new guidelines that doctors offer voluntary HIV tests to patients age 13 and older.

Aside from the doctor's office, here are other places where people can get HIV tests in the Los Angeles area:

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation provides a variety of HIV-testing sites here, including some mobile testing units and at Out Of the Closet Thrift Store locations.

AIDS Project Los Angeles has a comprehensive, searchable list of testing sites here.

-- Rosie Mestel

Photo: A "red ribbon" kite is flown in Beijing, China.  Gou Yige/AFP/Getty Images.

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