An estimated 35-million people around the world are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates some 39-million people worldwide have died of the disease since the epidemic began. While much progress has been made in treating HIV and AIDS, the fight against the disease continues. One such effort is seen in New York City where a community health care truck was out testing the public on World Aids Day.
New York was one of the first major cities in the United States to be hit by the AIDS virus in the 1980’s.
Since that time, treatment for the disease has been getting progressively better. In this public setting, off a busy New York street, a mini-laboratory is providing free testing all day for the HIV virus. Its Health workers say it is non-intrusive and easy.
“So the test is very simple, it comes in this packet it’s pretty straightforward, there is no blood involved," said HIV prevention specialist Frances Duran.
In New York City, one in five people who have the HIV virus to not know their status. So that's why the community has set up these mobile laboratories.
The test takes seconds, the results are back in about 20 minutes.
"This top part you’re going to slide it across your gums, back and forth, and then you would do the same thing on the bottom like if you are brushing your teeth,” said a health worker.
This is all part of a community health care network program to not only test, but to educate and provide some preventive measures. Despite all the progress, media program manager Diana Diaz says HIV is still a big problem.
“HIV is still increasing, although we’ve gotten an increase in medication, the availability of care and even insurances, we still have a new number of patients. We have an increase of about eight percent every year of new patients," she said.
Diaz says 90 percent of all new HIV cases among women in New York are either African Americans or Latinos. Almost 4,000 New Yorkers will be infected this year, which is good reason - according to the City Health Department - to test. To date, more than 100,000 New Yorkers have died from AIDS-related causes.