December 1 is World AIDS Day and advocacy groups in Connecticut say the disease doesn't discriminate.
John Merz is the Executive Director of the Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition. He says most Americans have the misconception that HIV/AIDS is a disease that just affects Africa, but he says anywhere from 40,000 to 63,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the United States.
Connecticut is ranked 8th in the nation for the number of AIDS cases per capita. Intravenous drug users are the leading population that is affected by the disease, followed by women and latinos. But Merz stresses that AIDS is a wide-reaching problem.
"The general population needs to know that everyone is at risk. The message for funders and lawmakers is that needle exchange or syringe exchange programs are the number one most effective way to stop the spread of aids among IV drug users and it should be funded and not have the barrier of faux morality blocking that," Merz said.
Merz says workers with the CT AIDS Resource Coalition are out in the community to spread the message that everyone should know their status.
The coalition has been working with colleges and universities, most recently at the University of Hartford to encourage students to get tested.