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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
November 24, 2004

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner
609-984-7160


 
2004 World AIDS Day Conference to focus on Women, Girls


 

TRENTON -- The impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls is the focus of a two-day conference that the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services is hosting in Atlantic City as part of a statewide series of events in recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1.

 

The World AIDS Day conference, which is being held November 30 and December 1 at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel, is expected to draw several hundred social workers, counselors, consumers, concerned citizens and advocates.

 

The keynote speaker of the conference on December 1 is Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex), a member of the Legislature since 1994 and a forceful advocate for women and children.

 

“Two children have died in New Jersey each and every week for the past 10 years because of AIDS and HIV-related illnesses,’’ said Sen. Gill. “I believe there is no greater threat to the public health of our state than HIV/AIDS. We have the knowledge and resources to save the lives of our children, women and families.’’

 

The international theme of this year’s World AIDS Day commemoration is

“Women, Girls, HIV, AIDS,” acknowledging the increasing impact this pandemic

is having worldwide on the female population.

 

“Since 1988, the World Health Organization has designated December 1 as World AIDS Day.  World Aids Day focuses attention on the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS worldwide, and reinforces the importance of the continued fight against this pandemic,’’ said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.

 

“New Jersey has the highest proportion of women to men in cumulative AIDS

cases in the nation,’’ Dr. Lacy said. “The Department of Health and Senior Services encourages those who think they may be at risk to protect themselves, get tested, and seek treatment if they are HIV positive.’’

 

The state ranks fifth nationally with more than 45,000 cumulative AIDS cases and third in cumulative pediatric AIDS cases. African Americans and Latinos/Hispanics account for 75 percent of cumulative HIV/AIDS cases statewide.

 

“World AIDS Day is a day when women in New Jersey should focus on the incidence of HIV/AIDS and how it affects them and their families,’’ said Carolyn G. Holmes, Deputy Commissioner of Public Health Services.

 

“As an African American woman, I know how important it is that we empower

ourselves to make decisions about our lives. We are the caregivers, mothers, wives, sisters and daughters who are often called upon to hold our families and our communities together. We must take care of ourselves for the sake of our families and communities,’’ Holmes said.

 

A year ago, the Department of Health and Senior Services began using new rapid test technology to provide free and confidential HIV/AIDS testing that allows individuals to get results in 30 minutes. More than 8,350 people have been tested at 39 state-funded sites, including hospitals, health departments, community health centers and nonprofit service organizations.

 

Despite the availability of new drug therapies and isolated reductions in the death rate in certain populations in the third decade of the HIV pandemic, there remain disturbing realities:

  • Worldwide, more than 40 million people are living with HIV.
  • Five million people acquired HIV in 2003, the greatest number of people in any one year since the beginning of the epidemic in 1981.
  • Eight thousand people die of AIDS everyday worldwide and there is still no vaccine or cure.

 

Among the events planned around the state in recognition of World AIDS Day

are an AIDS Walk from Camden City Hall to a Memorial Prayer Service at the Walt Whitman Cultural Center; a memorial service for people affected by HIV/AIDS at the Mary McLeod Bethune Center in Jersey City; an AIDS Memorial Quilt Construction session in the United Methodist Church in New Brunswick; and a health fair, luncheon and memorial service in the Broadway Gallery of the Patterson campus of Passaic Community College.

 

For a list of observances being held statewide, please visit the Department website at http://nj.gov/health.

 

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