Better treatment options have made living with the HIV virus possible but until there’s a cure, prevention remains the number one goal.

December 1 marked the 29th annual World AIDS Day. This year’s U.S. theme was “Leadership. Commitment. Impact.”  Held on the first day in December each year, this global commemoration is an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died.

“We’ve made much progress in understanding AIDS and in helping people live longer and healthier lives with HIV,” said Dr. Jeffrey T. Kirchner, DO, FAAFP, AAHIVS, Medical Director of the Lancaster General Health Physicians Comprehensive Care.

“And as much as we talk about ‘curing’ AIDS, the fact is that HIV infection itself is preventable,” Dr. Kirchner said.

According to Dr. Kirchner, HIV prevention starts with testing and identifying those who have already been infected so they can be treated with medications. He said that this not only keeps them healthy, but also significantly decreases their risk of infecting someone else by 95 percent.

Dr. Kirchner has 27 years of experience providing HIV/AIDS medical care and education and is board-certified in Family Medicine and as an HIV Specialist by the American Academy of HIV Medicine.

And Dr. Kirchner maintains that the use of condoms and education on safe sex practices remain the key to staying HIV-negative.

Dr. Kirchner and his team offer comprehensive treatment for patients with HIV and AIDS, as well as offers free HIV testing Mondays through Thursdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m. and on Fridays from 9 - 11 a.m. No appointment is needed at its offices on the third floor of 554 North Duke Street, Lancaster, PA 17602. Testing is free and confidential, and results are available in 20 minutes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a one-time HIV screening for all persons between the ages of 13 and 64 regardless of whether they are thought to have any of the traditional risk factors for HIV/AIDS. At-risk individuals should receive HIV counseling and testing on at least a yearly basis.

According to national statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Since the epidemic began in the early 1980s, more than 1.2 million people have been diagnosed with AIDS

  • Last year, 39,513 people were diagnosed with HIV infection in the United States

  • At the end of 2013, the most recent year for which such data are available, an estimated 1.2 million adults and adolescents were living with HIV

  • In 2014, there were 12,333 deaths (due to any cause) of people with diagnosed HIV infection ever classified as AIDS; 6,721 deaths were attributed directly to HIV

For more background on HIV and AIDS, LG Health has several excellent online resources, including a page about HIV and AIDS, a summary of how the virus can and cannot be spread, and an article in The Journal of Family Practice by Dr. Kirchner on best practices for family physicians to ensure timely HIV diagnoses.

For more information about the LG Health HIV and AIDS-related services, please call 717-544-4943 or visit www.LGHealth.org/GetTested.

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