The Whitley County Health Department is organizing a COVID-friendly event on Tuesday, Dec. 1, as part of World AIDS Day in order to make the community more aware that HIV and AIDS are still around and still real.
“World AIDS Day takes place on Dec. 1 each year. It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, according to www.worldaidsday.org.
As part of World AIDS Day, the Whitley County Health Department is setting up a mural at Nibroc Park in Corbin and at the Whitley County Extension Service’s Arts Center in downtown Williamsburg across the street from city hall.
Whitley County Health Department Health Educator Kathy Lay created the murals, which serve as a reminder in order to raise awareness about this deadly disease and to inform people where to get more information to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
The murals will also serve as a reminder of those who have lost their lives to this terrible disease.
“We encourage you to take a photo with the mural and post #ROCKTHERIBBON to raise awareness!” the health department wrote in a release.
In Kentucky, 63 percent of people, who are diagnosed with HIV are diagnosed with AIDS within 30 days.
Whitley County Health Department Risk Reduction Specialist Beth Brickley noted that HIV has stages.
“After an initial infection that can feel like the flu, HIV can lay dormant for as long as a decade. It isn’t until a person’s immune system is terribly compromised and susceptible to opportunistic infections that they may become aware of their AIDS diagnosis. It is important for everyone to get tested at least once and those at risk to get tested more often,” according to a Whitley County Health Department release.
In 2016 Whitley County was ranked as the 11th most vulnerable county in Kentucky for a rapid outbreak of HIV or Hepatitis C infections, and was the 14th most vulnerable county in the nation for such an outbreak out of more than 3,000 counties nationwide.
Worldwide there are an estimated 38 million people, who have the HIV virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history, according to www.worldaidsday.org.
“Many people have forgotten this epidemic that has impacted so many in our nation and in the world”, said Kelsee Dewees, Whitley County Health Department Harm Reduction Case Manager.