Governor Mills Marks 32nd Annual World AIDS Day

Maine recognizes advances in HIV prevention and challenges ahead
Designated on December 1 every year since 1988, World AIDS Day is an international day...
Designated on December 1 every year since 1988, World AIDS Day is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.(AP)
Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 3:03 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUGUSTA — Governor Janet Mills today joined the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) and partner agencies in marking the 32nd annual observance of World AIDS Day. This year’s theme is Rock the Ribbon: End HIV Stigma. On World AIDS Day, Governor Mills issued a proclamation honoring all those lost to AIDS-related illnesses and reaffirming Maine’s commitment to everyone currently living with and affected by HIV.

“On World AIDS Day, we remember those lost to this illness and recognize those living with and affected by HIV in Maine and across the globe,” said Governor Mills. “We celebrate the medical advances that have made it possible for people with HIV to live long, healthy lives and we reaffirm our commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic.”

Currently, 37 million people are living with HIV across the world. Among them are more than 1,600 Maine residents. In 2019, a total of 29 new cases of HIV were reported in Maine. Approximately 35 percent of Maine people who are newly diagnosed with HIV were diagnosed with AIDS at the time of their first HIV test, indicating that they were diagnosed years after being infected. People who are diagnosed late in their infection have poorer health outcomes and have missed opportunities for early treatment and prevention of transmission to others.

HIV care and prevention have changed dramatically since the discovery of the virus that causes HIV/AIDS in 1984. Advances in antiretroviral therapy (ART) have enabled people living with HIV to have long, healthy, and fulfilling lives. HIV patients who take ART consistently and correctly each day can have an undetectable HIV viral load and achieve what is called “viral suppression.” Research studies have demonstrated that it is impossible for virally suppressed individuals to sexually transmit HIV. In light of this pivotal development, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began its 2017 campaign: Undetectable = Untransmittable to publicize the essential role of ART treatment for HIV prevention.

There have been many advances in biomedical interventions that can reduce the transmission and acquisition of HIV. This includes Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), an FDA-approved medication that when taken daily can reduce someone’s risk of acquiring HIV by 99 percent. Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is an important medical advance that can be used to prevent HIV in emergency situations.  Someone who might have been exposed to HIV can reduce the risk of acquiring HIV by 90 percent with a 28-day regimen of PEP.

“Undetectable=Untransmittable is a game changer in the field of HIV treatment. It’s an additional tool in the ever-growing toolbox, including testing, PrEP and PEP, to prevent the spread of HIV and ensure better health outcomes for people living with HIV,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. " These advances get us one step closer to zero new HIV infections, zero HIV-related deaths, and reducing the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.”

The Mills Administration also marks World AIDS Day by acknowledging the essential role of our Maine communities, including those networks of individuals living with or affected by HIV, community health workers, providers, organizations, and local advocates who have continued to fight this epidemic and look to the future.

While there is much to celebrate on World AIDS Day this year, a great deal of progress needs to be made in order to achieve the United Nations’ goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Nearly 40,000 people are newly infected with HIV every year in the United States. These new HIV diagnoses disproportionately affect Black and African American gay and bisexual men as well as Latino gay and bisexual men. Transgender individuals are also disproportionately affected and have a new HIV infection rate nearly three times the average rate of cisgender individuals.

The only way to determine your HIV status is to get tested. Visit to find a local testing location.

Maine CDC’s HIV prevention program also provides funding for uninsured and underinsured individuals at the following locations:

  • Frannie Peabody Center: (207) 774-6877
  • The India Street Public Health Center: (207) 874-8446
  • Maine Family Planning: (207) 922-3222

Among the special events taking place throughout Maine in support of World AIDS Day are:

• Frannie Peabody Center:

  • December 1, Coffee by Design, Fox Street and Diamond Street: Portland, Maine-based artists Ryan Adams and Bee Daniel to create a large-scale mural to illustrate how the fight to end AIDS intersects with other community challenges, including health disparities, immigration, racial justice, housing instability, and LGBTQ+ rights.

• Health Equity Alliance (HEAL):

Copyright 2020 WAGM. All rights reserved.