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St. Louis to Observe World AIDS Day This Week

PHOTO: Zero deaths, zero new infections and zero stigma- that's the theme for this year's World AIDS Day event, which will be observed in St. Louis on Friday, Dec. 6.
PHOTO: Zero deaths, zero new infections and zero stigma- that's the theme for this year's World AIDS Day event, which will be observed in St. Louis on Friday, Dec. 6.
December 2, 2013

ST. LOUIS - Dozens of the state's top experts on HIV and AIDS will meet on Friday to share their insights, discuss the latest treatments and commemorate both the past and the future of the battle against the disease. "Getting to Zero" is the theme for this year's World AIDS Day event at the Missouri History Museum, which highlights the goal of zero new infections, zero deaths and zero discrimination.

Nancy Kelley, director of engagement and advocacy for St. Louis Effort for AIDS, said while much progress has been made in the areas of prevention and treatment in the 30 years since the AIDS epidemic first hit, we're not there yet.

"Individuals still are, unfortunately, becoming HIV positive, and living with HIV/AIDS," Kelley said.

In Missouri, it's estimated that roughly 11,000 people are currently living with HIV, while another 13,000 have been diagnosed with AIDS. More information on Friday's event, which is free and open to the public, is available on the St. Louis Effort for AIDS website.

Although AIDS no longer dominates headlines as it did when the epidemic first hit, researchers have never stopped working to treat and cure the disease, Kelley added.

"There's some hopeful evidence that there might be a cure out there, but there's also a lot of really effective treatment when it comes to medication," she said.

According to the United Nations, AIDS-related deaths worldwide have dropped by 30 percent since the peak in 2005, as access to antiretroviral treatment has expanded.

Friday's event will also feature panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt, a tribute to those who have died from the disease. More information is available at www.stlefa.org.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO