CDP Editorial: A test worth taking | CraigDailyPress.com

CDP Editorial: A test worth taking

Nov. 7 marked the 20th anniversary of what one ESPN.com story described as a "Kennedy Moment."

What transpired that day in 1991 was Magic Johnson, one of the brightest stars in the sports universe, stunning the globe by announcing he was leaving the glitz, glamour and glory of professional basketball because he had contracted HIV.

It was a moment that transcended sports and culture: until then, many believed HIV and AIDS to be the plague of drug addicts and homosexuals.

Magic's announcement reinforced what we now know — the disease doesn't discriminate and there are several ways someone can contract it.

Thankfully, time has chipped away at those prejudices and our society is more enlightened than it was two decades ago.

In large part, we have Johnson to thank for pushing the issue into the mainstream and being an ambassador for advanced research, enhanced education and awareness.

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His efforts and achievements in these areas far outweigh his championships and accomplishments on the basketball court.

However, while there have been positive strides and there isn't the degree of ignorance and fear regarding HIV and AIDS today that was so prominent years ago, the disease remains a public health threat.

Craig Daily Press reporter Bridget Manley's story on today's front page includes some interesting statistics regarding the disease's presence in Colorado, as well as Moffat and Routt counties.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, about 16,600 people in the state have been diagnosed with HIV between 1982 and 2010. Also, the rate of people living with HIV in Colorado increases by about 3 percent each year, according to the department.

Statistics about the disease's presence in Moffat and Routt counties aren't as alarming: There was one newly diagnosed HIV case in Moffat County from 2006 to 2010, and six in Routt County in the same time period.

But, it's important to understand a distinction concerning the numbers — they're based on reported cases. It's possible there are more people in our state and community fighting HIV and AIDS than what these numbers reveal.

All of this leads to Thursday's designation as World AIDS Day. The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association has responded just as a public health agency should in recognition — responsibly.

The VNA is offering free tests in Moffat and Routt counties Thursday.

The newspaper appreciates the VNA's decision to offer free tests, and we encourage anyone in the community who has engaged in at-risk behaviors to take advantage.

If anyone has even the smallest inkling about potentially having HIV or AIDS, they need to be vigilant and take the test. It's the prudent thing to do for not only themselves, but also their friends, family and spouses or partners.

The tests are designed to be quick — they involve a minor blood draw and results can be released in about 15 minutes — as well as discreet.

Numerous advances have been made in treating the disease, as opposed to the past, when such a diagnosis was tantamount to a death sentence.

Knowing for certain one's status is medically and emotionally preferable to letting questions linger, for both individuals and the loved ones in their lives.

For those who know beyond doubt they're not in danger of the disease, we ask you take a moment Thursday and recognize the struggles of people fighting it, and also be grateful advances have been made in treatment, saving an untold number of lives.

Although our society hasn't been able to find a cure for HIV and AIDS, we've come a long way in terms of understanding and eliminating many misconceptions.

For now, that has to stand as a substantial victory in this ongoing fight, and we must remain hopeful that one day this horrible disease can be eradicated as it should be.

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Our View

Twenty years after Magic Johnson’s announcement pushed HIV and AIDS into the mainstream consciousness, encouraging strides have been made in research and treatment. Still, HIV and AIDS remain public health concerns. The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, in recognition of Thursday’s World AIDS Day, is offering residents in Moffat and Routt counties free testing services. It’s important anyone who has engaged in risky behaviors be tested.

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