Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 8:11 am | Fair 47º


Santa Barbara County Public Health Department Honors Those Affected by HIV, Encourages Testing

The world celebrated World AIDS Day Monday, Dec. 1, 2015, a day of both remembrance and recommitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS. 

We honored the 544 people who have died with HIV in Santa Barbara County since the beginning of the epidemic. Their struggles, and those of their loved ones, have paved the way for almost 600 people still living with HIV in our community.

Every year, many new cases of HIV are diagnosed in Santa Barbara County, with approximately half diagnosed at a very late stage in people who lived unknowingly with their infection for a long time. These patients have the highest risk of complications and death from their infection. 

The Centers for Disease Control and the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department encourages everyone to know their status by getting an HIV test.

Free anonymous HIV testing is available in several locations throughout Santa Barbara County as indicated on the Public Health website. Testing is also available through private health care providers. 

As HIV treatment medications have improved, so too have prevention options. Safe sex with condoms remains a cornerstone in protection against HIV and many other sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s).

HIV prevention medication (HIV PREP) is another important, highly effective and accessible option for anyone at risk of exposure to HIV. 

The Public Health Department would like to remember and honor all who have been touched by the HIV epidemic in our community and to encourage everyone to know their status.

— Susan Klein-Rothschild is the public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

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