AIDS-related deaths continue to decrease while diagnoses numbers stagger

Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 1:03 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day. It is an opportunity to educate about HIV and AIDS, and honor the lives lost from the diseases.

Renee Heffron is the Director at the UAB Center for AIDS research. It’s one of the seven original centers established in 1988 by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

She said the center is continuing to innovate new technologies towards a cure and vaccine, but they are also focusing on the delivery of treatment. What works for one, doesn’t always work for others.

“Why can’t people use the medicines that are available? Well, it’s because their lives are complicated. So how can we be innovative about the delivery systems?” asked Heffron.

AIDS and HIV deaths continue to reduce, but the number of diagnosis is staggering.

Birmingham AIDS Outreach focuses on age appropriate prevention education across the community. The numbers show the largest group of people testing positive for HIV are between the ages of 13 and 24.

“The earlier you can educate the youth about prevention techniques and safe sex practices, the better, because ultimately the goal is to keep a healthier Birmingham and make sure they have the tools and resources and education surrounding that,” said Director of Marketing Ryan Pugh.

On this World AIDS Day, Birmingham AIDS Outreach is partnering with FredSays.Org. Fred Says’ mission is to support organizations that serve transgender young people, and youth living with and impacted by HIV around the world.

Fred Says and Birmingham AIDS Outreach
Fred Says and Birmingham AIDS Outreach(Magic City Acceptance Academy)

Fred Says started with a puppy named Fred born on Oct. 24, 2010, and adopted by Dr. Robert Garofalo shortly after his own HIV diagnosis. Magic City Acceptance Academy will distribute “Fred” plush animals to students, along with copies of “When Dogs Heal” to enjoy reading during the day.

The non-profit also made a $20,000 donation to MCAA.

At the UAB Center for AIDS Research, prevention efforts continue with new technology with hopefully more to come in the future, while working towards a cure.

“Newer prevention products that we have, we have injectables, we have daily pills, and we have some locations where a vaginal ring will become available,” said Heffron.

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