LITTLE ROCK, ARK. – Dec. 1st was World AIDS Day. A day to raise awareness, talk about prevention, and mourn those lost to the disease.

AIDS is an immune system disease that is caused by the spread of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) tells us that thousands of Arkansans have been diagnosed with HIV. Dr. Atul Kothari with the ADH explained the scope of HIV in Arkansas.

“Arkansas has about six and a half thousand patients living with HIV,” Kothari said.

According to the ADH, Arkansas is one of the seven states with high rates of HIV transmission.

Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative: A Plan for America (EHE) is a federal plan that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced.

“[The EHE] looks to reduce new HIV diagnoses by seventy-five percent in five years, and ninety percent in ten years,” Kothari said.

Positive Connections by AR Cares offers its help and services to those affected, as well as advocates for prevention. Elizabeth Borella, Senior V.P. Of Positive Connections, spoke about how important awareness of the disease was.

“18% of people living in Arkansas don’t even know they have it, and that’s a significant number so we’re focused in this program on that 18%,” Borella said.

Currently, there is no cure for the disease, but modern medicine keeps it maintainable, with a lower chance of transitioning to AIDS.

Those who wish to get tested can visit a doctor’s office or a local health clinic.