(December 14 - Tenafly, NJ) The AIDS Outreach Program at Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center recently hosted the 19th annual World AIDS Day prevention-focused conference for high school students. This year’s event was attended by more than 300 students from 11 schools in Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties along with teachers, school nurses and guidance counselors. This year’s conference was entitled “You helped fight HIV, now let’s end it.”
“Among the challenges of reaching teens is getting them to understand that somebody can have HIV, be infected, and be able to transmit the virus without showing any manifestations of the disease,” said Steven Sperber, M.D., chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Hackensack University Medical Center. "A person can look perfectly fine, you can enter into a relationship with them and through sexual contact become infected. Prevention is the only way to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS, and that is why educational programs, like this one, are so important.”
According to Dr. Sperber, every nine and a half minutes, someone in the United States is infected with HIV. During the conference, Hackensack University Medical Center physicians, nurses and social workers from the Divisions of Adult and Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Virology and Pharmacy participated in a panel discussion and answered questions from students regarding the transmission of HIV, symptoms of the virus and prevention. Confidential HIV testing was offered to students by Buddies of New Jersey.
“In the United States, one in seven patients living with HIV are unaware they are infected and half of young Americans between the ages of 13 and 24 with HIV, don’t know they are infected and can unknowingly pass the virus on to others,” said Lisa Tank, M.D., chief medical officer, Hackensack University Medical Center. “Not only is the World AIDS Day conference educational, informative and thought provoking, it gives educators and medical professionals an opportunity to create a dialog with teens to help them make better choices about their health.”
Hackensack University Medical Center began the World AIDS Day conference for teens in 1999 with 76 attendees from five schools in Bergen County.About Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center
Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center, a 781-bed nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county’s first hospital, it is now part of one of the largest networks in the state comprised of 33,000 team members and more than 6,500 physicians. Hackensack University Medical Center was listed as one of the top two hospitals in New Jersey in U.S. News & World Report’s 2018-19 Best Hospital rankings. It was also named one of the top five New York Metro Area hospitals. Hackensack University Medical Center is one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more years in a row. Becker’s Hospital Review recognized Hackensack University Medical Center as one of the 100 Great Hospitals in America 2018. The medical center is one of the top 25 green hospitals in the country according to Practice Greenhealth, and received 25 Gold Seals of Approval™ by The Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its fifth consecutive designation in 2014. Hackensack University Medical Center has created an entire campus of award-winning care, including: the John Theurer Cancer Center; the Heart & Vascular Hospital; and the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which houses the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center and listed on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. Hackensack University Medical Center is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and is Official Medical Services Provider to The Northern Trust PGA Golf Tournament. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events especially the Tackle Kids Cancer Campaign providing much needed research at the Children’s Cancer Institute housed at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital. To learn more, visit www.HackensackUMC.org.