World AIDS Day — Dec. 1

The World Health Organization established World AIDS Day in 1988. World AIDS Day is an occasion to reflect about the more than 25 million people who have died from HIV/AIDS over the past decade. It is a time to consider how to better care for the 35 million people living with HIV/AIDS. It is also a time to reach out to families, friends and loved ones who have been deeply affected by this pandemic.

The international theme selected by the World AIDS Campaign (WAC) for World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero: Zero New HIV Infections; Zero Discrimination; and Zero AIDS Related Deaths." This theme, which will be used until 2015, echoes the United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) vision of achieving: “Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.”

In keeping with the theme, the UNAIDS strategy has set 10 goals for achievement by 2015.

HIV in the United States

Every 9.5 minutes someone in the U.S. is infected with HIV

This year’s theme in the United States is “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 1 million people are living with HIV in the United States. One in five of those people living with HIV is unaware of his or her infection. 

New infections continue at far too high a level, with 50,000 Americans becoming infected with HIV each year. More than 619,000 people with AIDS in the U.S. have died since the epidemic began. More than 18,000 people with AIDS in the U.S. died in 2009.  

The federal government, state and local public health authorities, health care organizations, community partners and national advocacy organizations all embrace the HIV Care Continuum[i] , a planning model that identifies issues and opportunities related to improving the delivery of services to people living with HIV. Helping individuals across the continuum of care achieve viral suppression requires attention to psychosocial issues and to identification, prevention, and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. Demonstrated successful strategies include: public information initiatives to normalize knowing one's HIV status; HIV/STI prevention counseling in clinical and nonclinical settings; evidence-based behavioral interventions to support engagement and retention in care; medication adherence; screening, brief intervention and referral for alcohol, substance use and mental health disorders; integrated care for people living with HIV; mental health services, including behavioral counseling; substance use prevention and treatment; and structural interventions to mitigate HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination.

HIV/AIDS Care Continuum

[i] Department of Health and Human Services web-site: accessed on Aug. 30, 2013.

The Treatment Cascade

This 2-minute animated video provides a brief overview of HIV in the United States and illustrates how improvements along each step of the treatment cascade can help us achieve an AIDS-free generation. It focuses on a number of key steps that are consistent with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Psychology's Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Significant advances in biomedical HIV research have been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS over the past few years, which has accelerated the emergence of new biomedical HIV prevention options. However, evidence-based behavioral strategies that have been proven remain critical to achieving optimal prevention and treatment outcomes.

In February 2012, APA’s Council of Representatives adopted a resolution (PDF, 83KB) to bring attention to the importance of behavioral interventions and research in responding to the domestic and global HIV epidemics. On World AIDS Day 2013, APA takes this opportunity to emphasize the importance of psychology and its contribution to achieving an AIDS free generation. As APA strives to promote the application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives, we call for more research on behavioral factors such as people’s willingness to start and stick with treatment, medication adherence and decision-making, and the development of combination approaches that blend behavioral, biomedical and structural interventions. APA supports full funding for integration of HIV and mental health and substance services in both domestic and global AIDS portfolios. Psychology has contributed a great deal for over 30 years and will continue to play an important role in the future.

Read a special reflection on psychology's fight against HIV/AIDS from senior director David J. Martin, PhD, ABPP.

This Is Psychology: Drugs and Therapy

Watch APA Chief Executive Officer Norman B. Anderson talk about the importance of behavior in prevention and disease management.

Get Educated. Get Tested.

1 in 5 living with HIV are unaware of their infection

The CDC now recommends routine HIV screening of adults, adolescents and pregnant women in health care settings in the United States. 

Find an HIV testing facility nearest to you and those you care about.