Rhode Island Marks World AIDS Day

Dec 1, 2014

Rhode Island is marking World AIDS Day, Monday with an event at the Statehouse.  The goal is to raise awareness about progress made, and progress still needed.

Eighty-seven new cases of HIV have been reported this year. That’s up from the 74 cases reported in 2013, and 87 too many say doctors and activists.

Dr. Amy Nunn and Gov. Lincoln Chafee push for more testing at the World AIDS Day event in the Statehouse.
Credit Catherine Welch / RIPR

Congressman David Cicilline says while Rhode Island has done a good job to bring the infection rate down, there’s still work to be done. “This is a day where we commemorate and remember those we’ve lost to this terrible disease,” he said, “where we recommit ourselves as a community to continue to educate the next generation but also continue to fight to be part of a solution around the world to eradicate AIDS”

The number continues to rise among men who have sex with men. Rhode Island Public Health Institute director Dr Amy Nunn said part of the reason for that increase is that so many of the people who are newly infected are meeting their partners online. “What the internet and mobile phone apps have done is really expedite the process in which people can meet partners. And a lot of those are often for anonymous sexual encounters,” said Nunn.

A panel from the AIDS quilt hung on the mantel in the State Room during the World AIDS Day event at the Statehouse.
Credit Catherine Welch / RIPR

Nunn wants a public push to require websites such as Grindr and Scruff to promote HIV testing.  “Why aren’t they doing more? If Coke and Pepsi and Philip Morris and all the other naughty multi-national companies are pouring money into corporate social responsibility programs, we ought to be demanding they do as well,” said Nunn.

Nunn said Rhode Island has made especially good progress in stemming the epidemic behind bars. She says the state has done a good job testing and treating inmates, which has helped reduce the transmission of HIV throughout the state. 

Editor's note: a previous version of this article stated HIV cases decreased overall in Rhode Island; citing numbers from the RI Public Health Institute.  However, numbers from the state Health Department show there has in fact been an increase; the copy has been changed to reflect those numbers.

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