DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Claiming over 40 million lives, HIV continues to be a major global public health issue.

Annually observed on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day brings attention to the human immunodeficiency virus — or HIV — epidemic in the U.S.

“World AIDS Day is a day to remember those we have lost through AIDS, but then also to encourage people to protect themselves by getting tested,” said Dan Suffoletto, public information officer for Public Health – Dayton and Montgomery County (PHDMC).

HIV has claimed 40.1 million lives so far and in 2021, there were an estimated 38.4 million people living with HIV by the end of the year.

Region 9: Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Preble counties, accounted for 83 new cases, according to PHDMC. Montgomery County alone made up 60 of those new cases.

The theme for World AIDS Day 2022 is one word: “Equalize.” PHDMC said this slogan is a call to action to continue advancing everyday measures needed to address inequalities and help end AIDS.

“With proper care, people with HIV can lead long healthy lives, but stigma and discrimination often prevent them from getting the care they need,” said Montgomery County Health Commissioner Jennifer Wentzel.

There are free opportunities across the Miami Valley for you to get tested. To find a testing site near you, click here.