World AIDS Day is recognized annually on December 1 as a day to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS, destigmatize the diagnosis, and empower those living with HIV and AIDS. Today and all days, NACCHO mourns the lives of those lost to HIV/AIDS and recommit to the fight for health equity, freedom, and dignity for those living with or impacted by HIV. As the leading voice for local health departments (LHDs), NACCHO especially celebrates the efforts of local public health staff and volunteers working tirelessly to end the HIV epidemic.
The theme of World AIDS Day 2022 is “Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV,” which highlights the importance of creating equitable access to tools, such as HIV testing. In a video address, Harold Phillips, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, shared that the theme “encourages people to unite globally to eliminate the disparities and inequities that create barriers to HIV testing, prevention, and access to HIV care.” More information about the significance of this theme is available on HIV.gov.
In 2022, this message is especially important as the emergence of mpox and the persistence of COVID-19 continue to disproportionately harm communities most impacted by HIV/AIDS. These ongoing syndemics further emphasize that our public health response to HIV will require us to address health disparities holistically. A recent NACCHO blog and webinar highlights the “viral storm” of co-infections between HIV, STIs, mpox, and COVID-19, and shares opportunities for LHD HIV and STI programs to leverage available resources to address the syndemic.
Related resource: HIV Services and Outcomes During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, 2019–2021 (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), December 2, 2022)
NACCHO and our LHD members share the same goal as millions around the world: to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. To be successful, it will take a global response, utilizing all the resources available at every level of society. This World AIDS Day, NACCHO and HHS call on LHDs and community partners to read the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and Federal Implementation Plan for information on how local, state, and national levels can work together to better coordinate our response to the HIV epidemic. We also encourage health departments to review the newly-published Indigenous HIV/AIDS Syndemic Strategy: Weaving Together the National HIV, STI, and Viral Hepatitis Plans, created by the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board and the Indian Health Service National HIV Program to support the development of comprehensive solutions to end the HIV epidemic in Indian Country. The document contains emerging practices, existing initiatives, as well as traditional Indigenous knowledge that can be used by Tribal decision-makers to develop community-tailored interventions that address the syndemics of HIV, STIs, and viral hepatitis.
LHDs and their partners can also observe and support World AIDS Day by hosting events and sharing messages highlighting the importance of testing, prevention, treatment, and efforts to destigmatize HIV. World AIDS Day-related messaging and social media graphics are available from the CDC here. CDC’s Let’s Stop AIDS Together campaign is another resource available to health departments to empower communities, partners, and health care providers to reduce HIV stigma and promote HIV testing, prevention, and treatment. For additional resources related to U.S. efforts to end the HIV epidemic, please visit HIV.gov.