Stephanie Deyo was diagnosed of HIV/AIDS in 1994 when she was only 26, and she went on to give birth to a pretty daughter that was never infected with the deadly virus – and this was a time when pregnant women were never tested screened for the HIV virus to prevent mother-to-child transmission. She shares her story at the 26th World AIDS Day and how she wishes for an AIDS-free generation and society.

According to Deyo, the testing of pregnant women and the standard care given to them has driven the rate of HIV transmission to children to lesser than 1%. She goes further to affirm that “As I can attest, HIV/AIDS affects people of all genders, ages, races and sexual orientation. It is estimated that more than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1-in-7 are unaware of their infection. Across the country 45,000 people become infected with HIV each year, 518 In Washington State. About 1-in-4 new HIV infections in the United States is among the ages of 13-24.”

With the global theme “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation”, Deyo is of the opinion that the theme aptly represents how well the World AIDS Day focuses on the challenges people living with HIV faces, as well as what needs to be taken care of in the journey ahead.

The Domestic Chair of the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Network (IMPAACT) and a Co-Chair for Community Partners, Deyo believes that the state of Washington has recorded significant reduction in HIV infections because of quick medical interventions, life-saving anti-retroviral drugs, advances in HIV vaccine research, access to effective healthcare and medications, as well as frequent HIV testing and prevention education.

The former Board Member of Lifelong AIDS Alliance however believes that in order to achieve an AIDS-free society and generation, all hands must be on deck to initiate a measurable and progressive partnership with public health officials, NGOs, larger corporations, government agencies, as well as private individuals to increase healthcare access, sensitize people on the risks of HIV, as well as carry on scientific researches and development of treatment procedures and effective drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS.

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