The Bristol Mayor’s Task Force on HIV/AIDS commemorated World AIDS Day 2017 with distribution of packets HIV/AIDS information to hundreds of clients at the Hartford Dispensary. HIV/AIDS information about testing and prevention was available as well at Wheeler Clinic’s Health & Wellness Center.
On December 1, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the annual number of HIV diagnoses declined 5% between 2011 and 2015. In 2016, 39,782 people received a new HIV diagnosis. The disease is still being transmitted and over 16,000 of those new diagnoses were in people under 30. The CDC estimates 1,122,900 adults and adolescents were living with HIV at the end of 2015.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health reports that between 2010 and 2014, 18 new cases of HIV infection in Bristol were reported. The DPH website reports that a total of 177 people have been diagnosed with HIV in Bristol since 1981 with 94 still living with the virus.
New medications have helped people living with HIV live long lives with low virus counts if they are able to access early treatment and obtain medication and appropriate healthcare. In addition, PrEP, preventative medication, can be taken to prevent infection for people at a high risk of becoming infected.
The Bristol Mayor’s Task Force, created in 1991, continues to reach out to the community with a variety of educational programs and an emphasis on prevention and awareness for a broad range of people at risk of infection and helps to provide resources and services for those who are infected and affected.
In April, the Task Force’s annual professional development workshop will be offered for medical and social service staff involved in HIV-related care. The Task Force meets monthly at City Hall and its members reflect different aspects of the Bristol community.
For those interested in local testing sites, they can be found at: http://aids.gov/locator/ For more information about the Mayor’s Task Force, its programs and community projects, please contact Gabrielle Gelinas at 860.589.6433.