Serenity Promotes Rehab For Intravenous Drug Users During National HIV/AIDS And Aging Awareness Day

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On September 18th Serenity joined other worldwide organizations in educational efforts for the aging population and HIV/AIDS, also using the opportunity to further drug prevention and treatment

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In any demographic, drug use increases the risk of contracting HIV.

Each year on or around September 18th The AIDS Institute promotes National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD) to help educational efforts related to the aging population and HIV/AIDS and also the effects of aging with HIV/AIDS. This year Serenity Recovery has joined efforts to also raise awareness of risks of intravenous drug use (IDU) and HIV/AIDS, as well as growing concerns around the use of other substances and the correlating risks of contracting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1.2 million people in the United States are currently infected with HIV. Nearly one fourth of cases stem from IDU’s, and an estimated one in four people living with HIV/AIDS use alcohol or drugs to the degree that they require treatment. Effective screening of this often under-served population affects us all.

Fortunately, overall the number of deaths from AIDS has dramatically decreased in recent years, since the advent of more effect medical treatment for HIV/AIDS. The sooner treatment for HIV begins, the better the overall outcome. As people live longer with HIV, however, new challenges emerge for the healthcare system and caring for an aging population that requires continuous medication and treatment. Though nearly 20,000 people still die from AIDS-related illness each year in the United States, with effective treatment there is no reason to presume that an individual will have a shortened life expectancy with HIV.

Despite the overall decline of HIV cases in the U.S., Certain demographics are experiencing the same or even increased numbers. Twenty percent of newly diagnosed HIV cases in 2010 were young people, aged 13-24. Sixteen percent of new cases in the same year were people over the age of 50. While these two groups might have ample dissimilarities, some surprisingly similar risk factors emerge.

Complacency is often the biggest threat to effective HIV prevention, and young people and the aging population both face attitudes of complacency. Improvements in treatment can make both groups feel that HIV is no longer an issue. Young people may be less likely to be familiar with the dangers of the HIV epidemic, since it has dramatically improved since its early years. The older population might be at risk for getting complacent about safe sexual practices, particularly for women who are past the age of potential pregnancy.

In any demographic, drug use increases the risk of contracting HIV. Educational measures have long covered the risks associated with IDU’s, such as needle sharing. Such education has resulted in a marked improvement in the statistics: 23% of new HIV diagnoses in the 1990’s were IDU’s, versus only 8% in 2010. Research suggests the numbers are continuing to improve for the current decade, further illustrating the need for such effective education.

However, alcohol and drug use is still a primary risk factor for contracting HIV: individuals who use drugs may be more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, as well as unhealthy decision-making to obtain drugs or money for drugs. Treating substance use disorders therefore can also decrease the number of new HIV cases (and subsequent cost to the healthcare system of treatment). Given such improvements, the community coming together for effective rehab benefits everyone.

Serenity Recovery is committed to assisting the community in both substance abuse education prevention and successful recovery. Community members can participate with Serenity and others by encouraging HIV testing, providing education through volunteer opportunities, participating in health fairs that focus on HIV/AIDS prevention, and encouraging safer prevention methods for all sexually active individuals, of any age. By coming together as a community for the education, screening and treatment of all groups, we can make a difference in the lives of addicts and all individuals living with HIV. For more information, please visit the Serenity Recovery website, or call them at 1-855-218-3775.

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Derry Hallmark
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