New Jersey Department of Health

PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:

Christopher Rinn
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Christie Administration Observes World AIDS Day 2017

This year’s theme: Increasing Impact through Transparency, Accountability and Partnerships

New Jersey health officials are commemorating World AIDS Day on December 1 with events across the state to support the more than 37,000 state residents living with HIV or AIDS, remember those we have lost, and encourage residents to seek HIV testing and treatment if positive. Governor Christie has also issued a proclamation acknowledging the efforts of health care and community organizations throughout the state who provide HIV testing, counseling, education and treatment.

One of the biggest breakthroughs in 2017 has been scientific concurrence of what an undetectable viral load means. When people living with HIV take their HIV medications as prescribed and achieve an undetectable viral load, they have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner. 

On World AIDS Day, Acting Health Commissioner Christopher Rinn will attend a silent vigil at Newark City Hall hosted by the African American Office of Gay Concerns. Acting Deputy Commissioner Carolyn Daniels and Assistant Commissioner Connie Calisti-Meyers will participate in the World AIDS Day event hosted by the New Jersey Human Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Trenton.

On December 7, Steve Saunders, Director of HIV Prevention and Education, will present at the Prepping for PrEP, a World Aids Day community forum focused on HIV/AIDS prevention and medical advances that combat the HIV epidemic. This event is sponsored by Rutgers Newark Schools of Public Health and Nursing.

Throughout New Jersey, community-based organizations, hospitals and churches will host events including educational programs, free screenings and health fairs. For a list of 2017 World AIDS Day events in New Jersey, click here

As of June 30, 2017, more than 37,255 people were living with HIV or AIDS in New Jersey. It is estimated that about one in nine people living with HIV do not know they are infected. While HIV remains a serious health problem in the U.S., the estimated number of annual HIV infections fell nearly 20 percent between 2008-2014 (from 45,700 to 37,600).

“In New Jersey, the rate of new HIV cases has declined 34 percent in nearly a decade because of success in linking people to treatment,” Acting Commissioner Rinn said. “The number of new HIV diagnoses went from 1,722 cases in 2006 to 1,137 in 2015.”

Scientific advances in HIV care and treatment are game changers that can get us to the vision of a future in which new HIV infections are rare. There is effectively no risk of sexual transmission of HIV when people living with HIV are taking HIV medications as prescribed and have achieved and maintained an undetectable viral load. 

Healthcare professionals should include HIV testing as part of routine patient care. HIV rapid testing produces a result in about 20 minutes. During 2016, more than 80,000 free, confidential rapid HIV tests were administered at more than 150 locations in New Jersey. A complete list of New Jersey HIV testing sites can be found here.   

“HIV is a treatable disease and early intervention is key," Rinn said. "We’ve made great progress in ensuring people with HIV can live long, healthy lives. However, it is critical to get tested so individuals can be linked to medical treatment early."

The latest CDC Vital Signs report, published this week, showed HIV is being diagnosed sooner after infection than was previously reported. According to the report, the estimated median time from HIV infection to diagnosis was three years in 2015, marking a seven-month improvement over a four-year period.

Overall, 85 percent of the estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV in 2014 knew their HIV status.

“These findings are more encouraging signs that the tide continues to turn on our nation’s HIV epidemic,” said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD. “HIV is being diagnosed more quickly, the number of people who have the virus under control is up and annual infections are down. So while we celebrate our progress, we pledge to work together to end this epidemic forever.”

New Jersey facts:

  • Over the past three decades, medical advances have led to a decline in the transmission of HIV from mothers to babies: the number of new cases of pediatric HIV diagnoses dropped from 12 in 2001 to two in 2015 (83 percent)
  • Nearly 80 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS are 40 years old or older
  • Minorities account for 77 percent of adult/adolescent HIV/AIDS cases ever reported to the state, and 79 percent of all persons living with HIV
  • Thirty-eight percent of new HIV infections between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017 occurred among gay/bisexual men and 3 percent among injecting drug users
  • About 79 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS are black or Hispanic
  • Women account for 33 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS

Click here for the latest New Jersey HIV/AIDS report. 

Click here to view the CDC Vital Signs: Human Immunodeficiency Virus Testing and Diagnosis Delays report.

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter @njdeptofhealth, Facebook /njdeptofhealth, Instagram @njdeptofhealth and Snapchat @njdoh.