LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Dec 1. is recognized as World AIDS Day and the Arkansas Department of Health looks to give honor to those who have died from the disease and unite the world in the fight against it, the department said in a press release.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) weakens the immune system by eliminating cells that fight against disease and infections. AIDS is the most severe stage of HIV.

The disease is normally transmitted through exchanges of blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk.

The Centers for Disease Control says there are 6,678 Arkansans living with HIV and only 276 were diagnosed in the state in 2019 while 36,801 people were diagnosed in the U.S., which is a 9% decrease from 2015.

There is currently no cure for HIV, but with proper medical care, it can be controlled. Most people are able to avoid making the transition to AIDS with proper prescribed medication.

“Modern medicine has extended the lifespan of people living with HIV and eliminated the likelihood of transmission,” the release said.

The CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13-64 get tested for HIV at least once. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing.

For testing, schedule an appointment with your local healthcare provider.

To learn about local HIV support groups in Fayetteville, Rogers and Little Rock, click here.