Every year since 1988, L.A. CADA has commemorated World AIDS Day on December 1at. This year’s event was a reminder of the global struggle to end HIV-related stigma, to honor those we have lost, and to work towards a day when HIV is no longer a public health threat.
In 2023, the theme for World AIDS Day was "Remember and Commit." L.A. CADA’s commitment is strong – we were the first L.A. County behavioral health agency to establish an in-house HIV services division in 1988. At that time, help for behavioral health clients with HIV was difficult to find. Additionally, L.A. CADA treatment clients lived in communities fearful of the HIV virus and, at times, even hostile to those at-risk.
As a recipient of funding in the very first round of CDC prevention grants, our agency began the work to prevent and treat HIV among high-risk substance users. Progress has been made. Today, substance users and people with co-occurring mental health disorders throughout L.A. County can access L.A. CADA’s in-house HIV testing and counseling services; as well as the latest in science-based prevention education, HIV supportive housing, and treatment designed for the needs of the vulnerable populations we serve.
Even more work is needed. Admiral Rachel L. Levine, MD, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reminds us, "Many people with HIV still lack access to essential healthcare and support services. We must strive to increase equitable access and outcomes for HIV testing, prevention, treatment, and care services. The battle is far from over." To that end, L.A. CADA is bringing HIV education into L.A. County jails and working to create more recovery bridge housing programs that support HIV prevention and care.
The 2023 World AIDS Day theme of "Remember and Commit" additionally emphasized a collective responsibility to act. The progress made toward a better HIV/AIDS response required the combined efforts of governments, the community, the justice system, as well as advocates, activists, the faith-based community, and public and private organizations. Together, we continue to focus on saving lives and changing the course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This requires increased engagement, commitment, and the will to end HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by the goal of 2030.
Yet, stigma and discrimination remain formidable barriers to effective HIV testing, prevention, and care. One thing we all can do is to spread accurate information about HIV, reduce the stigma of HIV positive status, and promote prevention and testing. In our corner of the globe, L.A. CADA is working to end discriminatory laws, policies, and practices that hinder the achievement of goals to address the HIV epidemic.
We’re here if you need us at (562) 906-2676.