An estimated 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV and one out of five individuals doesn’t know they are infected.  World AIDS Day is observed annually on December 1 to raise awareness about HIV, commemorate those who have passed on, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services  and the first ever National AIDS Strategy (PDF, 1.2 MB) in the United States.
Why is World AIDS Day relevant to SAMHSA’s mission? The answer is simple. Behaviors associated with substance abuse fuel HIV transmission in the United States. 
Although injection drug use is a well understood risk for HIV, non-injection drug use also plays a role. The intoxicating effects of drugs and alcohol can alter judgment and lead people to engage in impulsive and unsafe sexual behaviors contributing to the spread of HIV.
AIDS.gov, the federal portal for HIV/AIDS information, has created the Facing AIDS initiative, to help raise awareness and understanding about HIV/AIDS and promote HIV testing. The Facing AIDS initiative is based on the idea that by sharing our faces and personal messages on World AIDS Day (December 1), we can make a difference in the response to HIV.
In support of AIDS.gov’s efforts, we are asking the behavioral health community to Face AIDS with us at SAMHSA. Here’s how Facing AIDS works and how we can stand together in this important cause:
- Download a sign (PDF) and write I (we) am FACING AIDS w/ SAMHSA b/c…[add your reason]
- Take a photo with your sign and upload it to the Facing AIDS Flickr group . Visit aids.gov blog post if you have questions about using Flickr.
- Share your photo with your family and friends via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and other sites on or before December 1st. And when you do so, remind them that they can locate local HIV testing sites, as well substance and mental health services.
Thank you for taking the time to Face AIDS with us.