By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Millions across the globe are marking World Aids Day aimed at raising money and awareness about the disease, that’s killed more than 25 million people. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on one of the most destructive pandemics in history, and what’s being done to change that.
Experts say there are better treatments, but not enough prevention and still no cure. For World AIDS Day, President Obama pledged an additional fifty million dollars for AIDS treatment.
“Today, we come together, as a global community,” said President Obama.
From Washington, DC to the Sydney Opera House, people are commemorating World AIDS Day.
Locally, Philadelphia Fight sponsored a prayer breakfast to remember those who’ve died and encourage faith leaders to include messages of HIV prevention.
“Today what we need to focus on is how we get more people tested, more people linked to effective care, and more people connected to these life saving treatments, which can be a key tool to ending the epidemic,” said Dr. Kevin Fenton, CDC’s Director of National Center for HIV/AIDS.
22-year-old Maxwell is among 33 million people living with HIV in the world.
“You have acute infectious HIV,” said Maxwell. He remembers the shocking diagnosis. Maxwell thought he just had the flu, which is a common symptom of HIV.
“Eventually one of my friends said we’re taking you to the hospital,” said Maxwell.
“Some of the common side effects are having flu-like symptoms, weight loss, night sweats,” said Rachella McClain, with AIDS Project of the Ozarks.
Now Maxwell is on four medications a day. Experts say early diagnosis is critical, along with spreading the message of prevention.
“Don’t be dumb when you’re young,” said Maxwell.
Nearly one in five people infected with HIV do not even know they have the virus that’s sexually transmitted, which is why it continues to spread.