More than 30 years ago — a time when HIV/AIDS was considered a taboo issue — our CEO at the time, Bob Haas, stood in the lobby of the Levi Strauss & Co. headquarters and handed out educational pamphlets about the disease.
We’ve come a long way since then, but we still have a long way to go.
That’s why today, which is National HIV Testing Day in the U.S., we’re joining public health agencies in encouraging both our employees and the public to know their HIV status.
If you grew up after the 1990s, you might be wondering why we’re still talking about HIV. Yes, great medical advancements have been achieved. Yet, even today, too many people still don’t know they have HIV and are dying from AIDS.
In the United States, someone is newly infected with HIV every 10 minutes.* In the time it took you to read this far in this article, someone somewhere in the world contracted HIV, and by the time you reach the end of the next sentence, AIDS will have taken the life of someone’s partner, spouse, child, mother, father, friend or colleague.**
Getting tested is the first step to finding out if you have HIV. If you have HIV, getting medical care helps you live a longer, healthier life and lowers your chances of passing HIV to others.
LS&Co. has been a pioneering leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS since 1982. Today, these efforts include our Employee HIV/AIDS Program, which provides employees and their families with access to HIV prevention, treatment and care; Community Involvement Teams focused on volunteering in the community and fundraising; and the Levi Strauss Foundation, which together with LS&Co. has contributed more than $60 million in grants to HIV/AIDS service and advocacy organizations in more than 40 countries.
Join us in this effort. Take the test, take control. If you don’t know your status, you can’t get the care you need.
*There are an estimated 50,000 new HIV infections in the United States every year; one in six are unaware of their HIV-positive status. (CDC)
**Globally, someone contracts HIV every 12 seconds. Every 16 seconds, someone dies from AIDS. (UNFPA)