HIV / AIDS was once a high-profile communicable disease. Due in part to effective medications, it has fallen in the public's awareness. Sunday's "World AIDS Day" hopes to renew focus on HIV.
World AIDS Day was established in 1988, at the height of the epidemic. Now, the deadly condition can be managed and those infected can live full lives. However, because it's not in the spotlight, fewer people are being tested.
Susan McCreedy is the Deschutes County Health Educator. She says she's been shocked by a surge of new AIDS diagnoses in the past five years.
McCreedy: "We already know that nationwide, over 20% of people who are infected are unaware of it. So, that's a lot of people. I think in Oregon it's 1,400, 1,500 people."
McCreedy attributes the new infections partly to young people who assume HIV is an "old man's" disease. She encourages everyone who has ever had unprotected sex or shared a needle, even for tattooing, to take the easy, 10-minute test.
World AIDS Day events in Bend include a gathering at the new Social Justice Center on Sunday at 5:00. In Eugene, an art show at the Paper Moon Gallery December 4th honors Lane County residents affected by AIDS.