World AIDS Day 2018
November 30, 2018
On December 1st, people around the globe observe World AIDS Day. It was first observed in 1988, and this year marks the 30th anniversary of the day. Since then, tons of research has been done, and lots of people have benefitted immensely from advances in medicine and developments in treatment. However, there is still plenty more to be done, including encouraging people to get tested and working to erase stigma. One step we can take toward ending stigma is addressing misconceptions about HIV/AIDS. Here are some facts:
- Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) cannot be contracted directly. It’s human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which can be spread. Here’s how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains the relationship between HIV and AIDS: “AIDS is the most severe phase of HIV infection. People with AIDS have such badly damaged immune systems that they get an increasing number of severe illnesses.” People who have HIV will have it for the rest of their lives and, without medical treatment, it can eventually be classified as AIDS.
- Anyone can contract HIV, no matter what their sexual orientation is. HIV/AIDS used to be thought of as something that only gay men could get, and it was even called “gay-related immune deficiency” or GRID when it was first being talked about almost 40 years ago. This is false. Gay and bisexual men unfortunately are among the groups of people who continue to be most at risk for HIV infection.
- Around 1.1 million Americans have HIV, but not all of them know it. One in seven are unaware that they have the virus, which is why getting tested is so important (even if you do not experience any symptoms)! People can then get treatment, and they can also prevent further spread of the virus.
This December 1st, we can help raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and try to eliminate stigma by making it a topic of conversation. Support those who confide in you that they are HIV-positive. Ask your friends and family if they have been tested. Get tested yourself!