The Catawba Care Coalition, a community-based HIV testing and counseling center in rural South Carolina, is one of the many HIV/AIDS organizations throughout the U.S. that is able to help individuals in need, in part because of donations from last year's Light to Unite campaign.
"Nearly one in four people with HIV in the U.S. do not know they have it," said Anita Case, executive director of Catawba Care Coalition. "Because of Light to Unite, we've been able to significantly increase our outreach to get people tested and counseled, link them to care if infected, and when they're negative, teach them prevention techniques to make sure they stay negative."
"While progress has been made with new treatments and prevention strategies, we still see 40,000 new HIV infections diagnosed every year in the United States. That is 40,000 too many!" said Kandy Ferree, president and CEO, the National AIDS Fund. "Increasingly, those being impacted by HIV/AIDS live in rural areas, far from information and treatment centers, or live in poverty, unable to access information. We have to go to them. Collaborations, like ours with Bristol-Myers Squibb, can help to change the course of this disease in the United States."
In the United States:
- An estimated one million people are living with HIV/AIDS.
- One in four new HIV/AIDS infections is in women.
- African Americans account for 49 percent of all new HIV/AIDS cases despite representing only about 13 percent of the total population.
- Every 15 minutes one American becomes infected with HIV.
- The rate of new HIV/AIDS infections has not declined in over 15 years.
- The South represents a little more than one third of the population, yet now accounts for nearly half of the estimated number of new AIDS cases.
"Through Light to Unite, Bristol-Myers Squibb is encouraging everyone to help us shine a light on the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States and make a difference in the lives of people with this disease," said Anthony Hooper, president, U.S. Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. "Our collaboration with the National AIDS Fund helps ensure that the communities hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic receive critical patient services and support."
The focal point of the Light to Unite campaign is the Web site, http://www.lighttounite.org, where each individual who participates in the campaign can "shine a light" by lighting a virtual candle while learning new facts about HIV/AIDS, sharing stories of personal impact, and giving directly to the National AIDS Fund.
To commemorate this year's World AIDS Day and Light to Unite, Bristol- Myers Squibb is making a $250,000 contribution to the National AIDS Fund, which will be distributed through grants to help organizations provide important services to HIV/AIDS patients, such as treatment, care and prevention programs. One hundred percent of the contribution will be distributed to grant recipients.
The National AIDS Fund provides grants through a network of more than 400 grassroots HIV/AIDS organizations around the country. This approach gives grassroots HIV/AIDS organizations access to needed funding, to offer support services that best meet the needs of their local communities.
About Bristol-Myers Squibb
Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global pharmaceutical and related health care products company whose mission is to extend and enhance human life. Visit Bristol-Myers Squibb at http://www.bms.com.
About the National AIDS Fund
The National AIDS Fund's mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of HIV/AIDS by promoting leadership and generating resources for effective community responses to the epidemic. Through an expanding network of Community Partnerships, the National AIDS Fund promotes collaborative local planning and provides strategic grants and technical support to nearly 400 direct service organizations annually. Since 1988, together with its Community Partnerships, the National AIDS Fund has invested over $142 million to combat the AIDS epidemic in the United States. For more information about the National AIDS Fund, please visit http://www.aidsfund.org.