Health officials urge HIV prevention and care on World AIDS Day

December 1, 2010

By Staff

NEW — 10 a.m. Dec. 1, 2010

King County Executive Dow Constantine recognized Wednesday as World AIDS Day, and thanked the community working to improve the lives of people living with HIV in King County and around the globe.

“Tremendous progress has been made in the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS, and I am particularly proud of the excellent work done by Public Health – Seattle & King County and our local partners,” Constantine said in a statement.

HIV has claimed more than 4,400 people in King County. Officials estimate 7,600 people with HIV live in the county, including 10 to 15 percent of infected people unaware of their HIV status. The public health agency estimated about 300 people become infected each year.

Public Health – Seattle & King County works to ensure easy access to HIV testing exists for residents.

“We are fortunate to live in a place where so many groups are working together to address the needs created by the epidemic of HIV,” Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in the statement. “Public health remains committed to our community partnerships to assure that we are doing the best we can for all who are affected by HIV.”

The agency recommends for all people between 13 and 64 receive at least one HIV test — and follow-up tests if they encounter new risks.

People at higher risk for HIV infection should be tested at least once each year, and as frequently as every three months for those at highest risk. People living with HIV have access to a variety of effective treatments, and more informed decisions about treatment could be made when an infection is detected early.

“We need to tackle this epidemic with the same aggressive approach we used back in 1987 when King County prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of HIV status,” Constantine continued. “We will strive to set continuing high standards in our commitment to HIV/AIDS prevention and care.”

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