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When HIV exploded in the 1980s, scientists had no idea what was making patients so sick. So, what have scientists figured out since then? We explain. USA TODAY

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wrote Tuesday on Twitter, emphasizing the importance of medication for HIV-positive individuals to curb the spread of the disease.

World AIDS Day began in 1988, and is always Dec. 1. "It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness," according to the organization's website.

He told USA TODAY when promoting his new memoir last September: "At the beginning (of 'Queer Eye') I was really kind of nervous to talk about my HIV status and not sure if I wanted to and how I wanted to," Van Ness tells USA TODAY. "And as I’ve continued to experience the world as I always have, it just became more clear to me that I wanted to be totally open with my story."

JVN's memoir details: United Nations. As of the end of June 2020, 26 million people had access to antiretroviral therapy. About 5,500 women between the ages of 15 and 24 are infected with HIV every week. In sub-Saharan Africa, five out of six 15 to 19-year-olds infected are female.

And the epidemic remains pervasive in the U.S., albeit not nearly at levels seen previously. Just under 38,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in he U.S. and dependent areas in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These diagnoses fell 7% in adults and adolescents overall from 2014 to 2018, though certain groups have seen increases.

Though the Trump administration has indeed supported grants to help end the HIV epidemic and has a goal to end it, it's been criticized by LGBTQ advocates for failing to meaningfully protect the community. 

Van Ness continued in subsequent tweets Tuesday: "To acquire & maintain medication while having access to a doctor for an HIV+ person is life and death not only for them but for public safety. The massive hoops that exist for people living with HIV especially in rural areas in the US to jump through makes it so much harder." And: "We need a comprehensive federal program to provide testing, treatment & medication for all people living with HIV/AIDS. We have come a long way in the fight against HIV/AIDS but there is so much work left to be done."

Gay and bisexual men are most affected in the U.S., with Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino men who have sex with men leading the most infections. 

Van Ness opened up to Self further in an interview published Tuesday about living with HIV during the coronavirus pandemic, and the populations that require more help.

"There are not enough resources in the HIV social safety net anywhere," Van Ness told the outlet. "And when it comes to Black people, Black women, people of color, the assault on Planned Parenthood—there isn’t enough access anywhere."

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