Friday is World AIDS Day, and the McLean County Health Department is working to spread awareness.
New cases of HIV occur each year in McLean County despite improvements in medication and technology. The McLean County Health Department reports a rate of about five HIV cases per year. That could be diminished in the near future if the proper precautions are followed, said Melissa Graven, the county's communicable disease supervisor.
“We really could see a generation of no new HIV cases. We think if we can get people who have HIV diagnosed into care, into treatment, and adhere to their medication, it’s going to bring that viral load down," said Graven.
Graven also said one of the best ways to hopefully eradicate AIDS in the future is informing the public about how it's transferred, especially since there are sometimes no symptoms. The health department reports nearly 25 percent of HIV-positive individuals in the United States do not know they are infected.
Graven said Friday's World AIDS Day tree-lighting ceremony at Hy-Vee in Bloomington aims to inform people in the community who may not know about HIV prevention.
“Whatever measures we can take to try to lower that transmission until we get a vaccine is all that we can do. That’s why we need the community to be aware, not just those living who are HIV positive and those who know someone who’s HIV positive,” said Graven.
Graven said the Hy-Vee tree will be lit through December to symbolize the goal of eradicating this virus.
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