HOUSTON - On Wednesday, local HIV awareness groups, along with survivors and politicians, gathered at Sam Houston Park to commemorate World AIDS Day and to remember the many faces who lost their battle to the virus. They also reacted to comments made Wednesday afternoon by President Joe Biden.
"We’ve asked Congress for $670 million, a historic budget request for ending the HIV epidemic United States initiative." The President said.
Those remarks come as the CDC has also stated their initiative to end the HIV epidemic in our country by the year 2030.
And thanks to major medical advancements that can stop people from both spreading and contracting the virus, health officials say it’s possible to do.
"HIV therapy, or treatment for people living with HIV, has advanced today. Most regimens are just 1 pill once a day, whereas back in the 80’s or 90’s, people were taking 20 pills multiple times a day," said Beau Mitts, HIV/AIDS spokesperson or the Houston Health Department.
The city of Houston has been one of the hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. According to the Houston Health Department, around 28,000 people in our area are living with HIV as of 2019; and in 2020, doctors diagnosed more than 900 new cases.
Two years ago, the Houston Health Department started the ‘I Am Life Campaign’ to push awareness and prevention, they say more initiatives are already in the works.
"We’re working to build up smaller community-based organizations and providing microgrants to smaller community-based organizations to really reach the communities that we need to be reaching, like communities of color and communities that interact with youth," said Mitts.
Even with modern-day medicine helping to get a hold on the virus, officials say education is still key.
The CDC predicts 25% of people living with HIV don’t even know it. In order to prevent spreading the virus people need to know their status, the Houston Health Department offers free and confidential HIV testing at their offices. Click here for more information.