News release: World AIDS Day remains an important observance in Minnesota

News Release
November 28, 2011
Contact information

World AIDS Day remains an important observance in Minnesota

HIV testing and public awareness events planned for December

On Thursday, Dec. 1, World AIDS Day will be observed in Minnesota for the 24th time to call attention to the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic and the impact that HIV/AIDS has had in the state. In commemoration, a variety of HIV testing and public awareness events are scheduled in Minnesota for the day and through the month of December (a partial listing is below).

"World AIDS Day remains a critical observance for us and the world," said Peter Carr, director of the STD and HIV Section, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). "AIDS is still here, there still is no cure or vaccine, and 33.4 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. World AIDS Day allows us to sound the alarm that the epidemic is not over and persists here in Minnesota and the U.S."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 1.1 million Americans are currently living with HIV and 48,100 new HIV cases occur each year in the U.S. About 1 in 5 Americans living with HIV haven't been tested and don't know that they are infected.

Since 1982, 9,493 people in Minnesota have been diagnosed with HIV infection, and 3,228 of them have died. Currently, an estimated 6,814 people are reported to be living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota, including those who moved to Minnesota after they were diagnosed in other states.

"In Minnesota, we have consistently averaged more than 300 new HIV infections annually over the past decade," said Carr. "Our greatest concern is that HIV continues to affect certain communities at much higher rates."

Men and women of color and men who have sex with men continue to have disproportionate rates of HIV/AIDS. About half of all new cases reported in 2010 were among persons of color. Statewide rates for African-Americans, Latinos and American Indians are about 12, 6 and 4 times greater, respectively, than whites. Rates for African-born individuals are 17 to 25 times greater than for whites. Cases among men who have sex with men accounted for 57 percent of all new HIV infections reported in 2010.

"New research is showing that early diagnosis and getting infected persons into treatment and care can prevent the spread of HIV," said Carr. "Unfortunately, not enough people are coming forward to be tested or they are being tested in the later stages of their infection."

MDH data show that about one in three persons diagnosed in 2010 were considered ‘late testers' indicating that they already had AIDS or developed AIDS within a year after being tested. An AIDS diagnosis usually occurs after being infected with HIV for five to ten years. Late testing may be due to cultural and language barriers, social stigmas, and limited access to health resources and care.

"HIV infection remains highly preventable," said Carr. Ways to prevent or reduce the spread of HIV include avoiding or delaying the start of sexual activity, using latex condoms consistently and correctly, avoiding the sharing of needles or equipment to tattoo, body pierce or inject drugs, and knowing your HIV status by getting tested.

In a proclamation marking this year's observance, Gov. Mark Dayton called for all Minnesotans to educate themselves about the risks and testing opportunities for HIV and demonstrate compassion for those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.

To help provide dates and locations for prevention education and free testing opportunities, the MDH website offers a calendar of events at:
World AIDS Day has been held annually since 1988 under the sponsorship of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and recently through the organization, World AIDS Campaign. More than 200 countries worldwide annually observe World AIDS Day.


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World AIDS Day activities will occur throughout December Minnesota, here are a few sample event listings...

Thursday, Dec. 1, West Side Community Health Services, 153 Cesar Chavez St., St. Paul, MN 55107
Dia Mundial del SIDA/World AIDS Day (8 a.m. - 4 p.m.), free and open to the public
La Clinica (West Side Community Health Services) will offer free HIV testing and education for walk-ins all day in commemoration of World AIDS Day on December 1. Bilingual staff will offer education in Spanish or English. HIV test results will be available in 10 minutes.

Thursday, Dec. 1, Capri Theatre, 2027 West Broadway, Minneapolis, MN 55411
Second Annual Sarah Simmons Showcase (6 - 8 p.m.), free and open to the general public
In observance of World AIDS Day and in memory of local AIDS advocate Sarah Simmons, an open mic forum and on-stage performances will be held to highlight the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on the local African and African-American communities. This event is hosted by Turning Point, Inc., Minnesota African/African American Women HIV Initiative (MAAAH), Kwanzaa Community Church, Youth and AIDS Projects and Community Fitness Today.

Thursday, Dec. 1, Riverview Theater, 3800 42nd Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55406
World AIDS Day Screening of "We Were Here" (7 p.m.) open to the general public
Join the Minnesota AIDS Project in the screening of the documentary, "We Were Here," that takes a deep and reflective look back at the arrival and impact of AIDS. Cost: $3 at the door.

Saturday, Dec. 3, Oromo Community of Minnesota, 465 MacKubin Street, St. Paul, MN 55103
African World AIDS Day Event (11 a.m. - 4 p.m.) free and open to the general public
The African World AIDS Day (AWAD) Planning Committee is hosting its eighth annual event in observance of World AIDS Day. African youth performers, community leaders, agency exhibits, free HIV testing and a free lunch will be included during the event. Free lunch served at Noon.

For additional information about World AIDS Day, visit the MDH website at:


For more information, contact:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications Office

Peter Carr
MDH STD and HIV Section