World AIDS Day Marked in Baltimore

SOURCE: Baltimore City Health Department

Health Commissioner says impact of virus could be substantially reduced with prevention as well as compassion.
BALTIMORE, MD (December 1, 2004)—The World Health Organization established World AIDS Day on December 1, 1988. Since 1979, when the first case in Maryland was reported, there have been 25,562 AIDS cases and 22,710 HIV cases in Maryland. As of September 30, 2003, there were a total of 27,621 living HIV and AIDS cases in the State of Maryland, fifty percent of whom were residents of Baltimore City at the time of diagnosis.

“This is a time to reflect on the losses that we have had to HIV/AIDS, but also to think of the invisible people affected by this epidemic--those whose parents, other family, and friends have passed away from this disease or who are living with HIV/AIDS,” said Dr. Peter Beilenson, who heads the City's Health Department, in a statement to the press.

“We can do a better job as human beings of stopping the spread of HIV so that there are fewer people who have to live with this disease,” continued Beilenson. “People need to make more informed decisions before they participate in sexual activity. They need to get to know their partners and then protect themselves if they decide to engage in sexual relations.”

Citizens were urged to get tested for HIV, and encouraged to have their potential partners be tested also. The earlier a person knows that he or she is infected, the sooner treatment can begun that may slow the spread of HIV to full-blown AIDS.

Beilenson reminded the public that the Baltimore City Health Department offers services for individuals who are HIV negative and positive including testing, HIV drug treatment, connection to support services such as transportation and support groups, and a program to ensure that persons take their medications.

Every eight hours, Beilenson said, someone in Baltimore is infected with HIV. “We are all affected by HIV in Baltimore, even if we are not among those infected with the disease. Doing your part is the only way that this disease will be slow to spread!," he said, urging the public to become involved in helping prevent the spread of the disease.

For more information on the services available at the Health Department, call (410) 396-4398.

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This story was published on December 1, 2004.