ROANOKE, Va. – December 1 is World AIDS Day, and it’s been marked by special events to draw attention to a virus that was once a guaranteed death sentence.
Wednesday, President Joe Biden unveiled a new national strategy focused on ending the epidemic by 2030.
The strategy, something Biden had promised on the campaign trail, will provide a “framework and direction for the administration’s policies, research, the programs and planning through the year 2025 to lead us toward ending the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030,” a Biden administration official said.
The World Health Organization estimates nearly 80 million people have been infected with HIV, the virus that, if not treated, can lead to AIDS. Of that population, 32 million people lost their lives to the virus.
To honor their lives, candles were lit during a service at Greene Memorial United Methodist Church in Roanoke.
“Now we have a one-pill-a-day regimen that for most people can bring their viral load down to undetectable, which means they can no longer pass the virus on to other people,” explained Todd Rothrick, center manager and program coordinator at the Drop-in Center. “It’s not attacking their body and it’s a manageable disease now which is huge compared to what it was in the first 20-30 years of the disease’s progression.”
The Drop-in Center is a one-stop-shop for testing, treatment and other needs.
“So many people do not test, do not take precautions because they do not believe they’re at risk because they’re not gay, because they’re not a high-risk population – African American, Latino. It’s everybody. It’s a virus that affects anybody,” stated Rothrick.
Contact the center to schedule an appointment: 540-982-2437.