CINCINNATI — Hamilton County's public health leaders have received federal funding to support their plan to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic within the next decade.
Inside Mount Auburn's Church of Our Savior, Tri-State community members gathered on World AIDS Day to remember those they have lost and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in the community. One of the attendees, Jaasiel Chapman, said he has lost two friends to HIV/AIDS.
“As a gay black male, I see myself as the face of the epidemic," Chapman said.
Chapman has made it his life's work to help others, working as a program coordinator for Hamilton County Public Health — an organization that recently received federal funding attached to a plan focused on ending HIV/AIDS.
"It’s a way to honor their memory, to show their lives haven’t been in vain," Chapman said.
Hamilton County Public Health's goal is to have infection rates down 75% from current levels by 2025. By 2030, they hope to have infection rates down 90%.
“Dollars are going a lot to prevention — and to those who are tested and test positive, going to getting them into treatment, retaining them in treatment," Chapman said.
In 2019, the county reported 168 new diagnoses of HIV, down 10% from 2017. Chapman said there is still work to do.
“We need to have these conversations to continue to erode the stigma," Chapman said. "The stigma is a lot of what’s fueling the epidemic."
He said he has seen firsthand the changes science has provided over the past 40 years.
“We have come from the days of health departments sending out brochures of people who tested positive, brochures with cemeteries on the cover," Chapman said. "Now, you know, it’s like diabetes — it’s manageable. People don’t have to die.”
The plan targets HIV testing, preventing new infections and expanding care options in hopes of putting an end to HIV one day soon.
For more information on HIV testing, care and prevention in Hamilton County, click here.