Every year, the United States observes National Condom Week from February 14th (Valentine’s Day) to February 21st. What started as a fun campus event at the University of California–Berkeley in the 1970s has become an opportunity for HIV prevention educators and advocates to engage audiences across the country in conversations about condoms and other tools to protect ourselves and our partners from HIV.
In recent years, we have reached major milestones in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and new research has generated hope for an AIDS-free generation. Antiretroviral therapy (the use of drugs to prevent HIV infection) and other prevention methods to control the spread of the virus are available and helping people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. Even more exciting is the existence of medications that HIV-negative individuals can take to help prevent infection, an approach known as pre-exposure prophylaxis. Similarly, people with HIV can also take antiretroviral drugs as part of a method known as treatment as prevention that helps lower their viral load in an effort to protect their sexual partners and helps reduce HIV transmission on a larger scale .
But, one of the most powerful tools in the fight against the epidemic, along with condoms, remains HIV testing. The real power resides in knowing your status. This is particularly important for Latino gay and bisexual men, one of the groups most heavily impacted by HIV. Though Latinos comprise only 16 percent of the population in the United States, they account for 21 percent of all new HIV infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).