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David Morgan
575-528-5197 Office
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A Reason to See Red This Month

December 4, 2013 - HIV Prevention - Information

It’s December. Christmas is coming. ‘Tis the season and all that, but if there’s one color I wish we’d all see this holiday season – it’s red.

Not just because of Santa ‐ but because of red ribbons – and the message they represent to the thousands of people in New Mexico living with HIV or AIDS.

World AIDS Day was December 1st, but the message of that day and the red ribbons pinned to peoples’ shirts translates into action by the Department of Health’s offices across the southwest.

World AIDS Day is held every December 1st as an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day when it was first launched 1988, and with good reason.

An estimated 34 million people worldwide have HIV. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive diseases in history, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of 2012, 472 of people in southwest New Mexico are living with HIV/AIDS, with 2900 people statewide.

The New Mexico Department of Health along with the Southwest Action Group (SWAG) participated last Saturday in World AIDS Day outreach at the Las Cruces Farmer’s and Crafts Market.

There they provided everything from rapid HIV testing to education.

“I don’t think it’s on a lot of people’s radars,” said Department of Health HIV Health Educator David Daniels. “We’ve been talking about this thing since the 1980s so people tend to have been deadened to the message sometimes. When it comes to World AIDS Day it’s the opportunity to raise the awareness again.”

Year round, our southwest region Disease Prevention Team works with area residents who test positive.

“Medical providers by law inform the Department of Health when a test comes back positive,” said Disease Prevention Program Manager Travis Leyva. “Often it’s someone from our office that tells a person they’re HIV‐positive.”

From there, the program offers medical and non‐medical case management for patients with the intent of linking them to specialists, treatment, and support services. The southwest program currently assists a wide range of people between the ages of 15 to 78. If patients have insurance, it gets those qualified with insurance assistance programs and Aid and Comfort support. If they’re uninsured, the program helps get them coverage through Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act Health Care Exchange.

The thing is, HIV and AIDS transcend populations. What was initially widely believed by people to be a health problem for drug abusers or members of the gay community is still the source of a lot of re‐education. The areas where the number of those infected locally and worldwide these days are heterosexuals and men and women over the age of fifty.

The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV at least once.

“If you ever test positive for it, you can begin doing something about it so that it can extend your life, said Daniels. “This thing still has no cure, it’s still affecting lives, and people are still dying from it.”

For more information on the Department of Health’s Southwest Region Disease Prevention Program, call (575) 528‐5031.

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