WPCNR HEALTHY TIMES. From the Westchester County Department of Health. November 26, 2013 (EDITED):
In recognition of battling the epidemic for more than three decades here at home and throughout the world, the Westchester County Department of Health will take part in World AIDS Day observances throughout the county and is reminding residents to get tested for the disease.
“Most people don’t realize how prevalent HIV and AIDS really are,” said Dr. Sherlita Amler, commissioner of health. “An estimated 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV, and yet one out of five doesn’t know it. Everyone should know their HIV status and there are plenty of places that offer free testing on a regular basis, like our health department district offices. The test is quick, simple and readily available, so there’s no excuse not to get one.”
HIV remains a nationwide and worldwide epidemic. The World Health Organization estimates that 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV. There is still no cure for HIV and no vaccine to prevent it.
In New York State, excluding New York City, Westchester County is home to the largest number of people living with HIV and AIDS of any other New York county. At the end of 2011, the latest year for which data is available, there were 3,798 people in Westchester living with HIV and AIDS — 100 of whom were newly diagnosed with HIV that year — and another 1,000 residents estimated to be infected with HIV but unaware.
Most alarming is that 26 percent of those diagnosed with HIV receive an AIDS diagnosis within the following month, an indication that they did not get an HIV test early enough to prevent the onset of the AIDS illness through the aggressive use of antiretroviral medications.
Most living HIV/AIDS cases are among men (60.9 percent in 2011), but more and more women are diagnosed with HIV and AIDS each year in Westchester. The percentage of living AIDS cases among women has more than doubled from 1987 to 2011 (from 16 percent to 37.4 percent).
The top risk factors for having contracted HIV infection for men living with HIV/AIDS are men having sex with men (42.6%), injection drug use (23.4%), and heterosexual contact (14.4%), while HIV infection among women with HIV/AIDS is attributable to heterosexual contact (68.9%) and injection drug use (28.8%).
Free HIV testing is offered regularly by the Health Department at 20 South Broadway in Yonkers and at 134 Court Street in White Plains. Residents can call the Yonkers office at 231-2500 or the White Plains office at 995-5800 for dates and times when testing is available or view the clinic schedule by visiting www.westchestergov.com/health.
To pay tribute to those who have been lost to the disease and those who are still living with HIV/AIDS, the health department will participate in the following World AIDS Day events this year:
- Monday, December 2, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center will host its 13th Annual Breakfast Banquet at 107 West Fourth Street Mount Vernon, NY. For more information contact Lisa Bucknor at firstname.lastname@example.org or (914) 699-7200 ext.533.
- Monday, December 2, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., the Mount Vernon HIV/AIDS Task Force will hold its annual WAD luncheon at Grace Baptist Church, 52 South Sixth Ave., Mount Vernon. The group will honor Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson for her contributions to the community and the fight against AIDS. The program will also include testimonials from HIV positive residents. For more information, contact Robert Cestone at Rcestone@fsw.org or Sharon Thomas email@example.com.
- Monday, December 2, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., the Mount Vernon Youth Council will hold a World AIDS Day event for youth ages 12 to 21 at the First United Methodist Church, 227 East Lincoln Avenue in Mount Vernon. The event will feature a DJ, music, food, entertainment, raffles, and HIV and STD testing and prevention education. For more information call (914) 665-3870 or (914) 665-3872.
- Tuesday, December 3, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., the Yonkers HIV/AIDS Task Force will host their annual World AIDS Day event at the Larkin Library in Yonkers. The program will begin with a ceremonial walk from Yonkers City Hall to Larkin Library, during which the names of local residents who have died from AIDS will be read. On the agenda is a panel discussion featuring local HIV and AIDS specialists, short films, poetry readings, testimonials, as well as the tolling of bells and a candle lighting ceremony. Julie Lehane from the Health Department will be presenting data on black women and HIV/AIDS and portions of the AIDS quilt will also be on display at the library. For more information contact makada@ the sharingcommunity.org.
For more information about HIV and AIDS, call the Westchester County Department of Health at 813-5000 or go to www.westchestergov.com/health. You can also follow us on Twitter @wchealthdept or like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/wchealthdept.