Today is AIDS Awareness Day at the State Capitol, and it’s telling that such an event even exists. Those around in the 1980s might find it odd that the scourge of AIDS and HIV would need a day of awareness, but activists say those at risk – and those who hold the purse strings for prevention and research – have grown lax as medical advances have chipped away at the epidemic.
But as the chart below from the state Department of Public Health shows, even as the rate of new diagnoses has slowed, more people than ever in Connecticut — more than 10,000 — are known to be living with HIV (and the actual number infected is likely far higher). And AIDS in 2010 killed another 182 citizens.
“Over the past decade, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS has doubled, yet funding has never kept pace,” says Shawn M. Lang, director of public policy with the Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition coalition. “We are painfully aware of the realities of the budget but have lost 34 percent of our funding over the past five years.”
According to the coalition, HIV finds a new victim every 9½ minutes nationally and it’s estimated that 25 percent of those with the virus don’t know it. Click here for a fact sheet with additional information on HIV and AIDS in Connecticut.