Today is World AIDS Day, and while immense progress has been made in de-stigmatizing, treating, and managing this disease, the number of people infected in the US is upwards of 1.2 million, and globally, that number is 34 million.
Today’s Five Things is dedicated to the men, women, and children battling this illness personally, and to all of the healthcare workers, epidemiologists, child life specialists, scientists, philanthropists, researchers, and all others out there working tirelessly to eradicate this scourge of a disease, once and for all.
Five Facts About AIDS
1. 25% of new HIV infections in the US are among those aged 13-24 years.
2. One in six people living with HIV do not know that they are infected, and can unknowingly pass along the virus.
3. Black and African-American people are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS diagnoses. (Let’s be clear here– in this country, to our shame, race is inextricably linked to socioeconomic status, and many of our black and African neighbors and fellow citizens are not able to afford the necessary treatments and medical care that would help to decrease their HIV/AIDS infection rate. Access to education is a compounding factor, but one that I will leave to other pens for today at least.)
4. Gay and bisexual men continue to be the group most severely affected by HIV and AIDS. While other groups’ infection rates have dropped over the past few years, this group’s infection rate has climbed 12% since 2008, and the greatest number of new infections in this group is among young black and African-American males, ages 13-24.
5. There are still dangerous and rampant myths spread about HIV and AIDS worldwide, including, but not limited to: that mosquitoes spread AIDS; that intercourse with a virgin will cure AIDS, which has led to countless rapes and further infection; and that HIV can be spread through casual contact with an infected person. We have better access to information and the means to spread it than ever before in humankind’s history– let’s harness it and shout the truth from the rooftops!
Five Things You Can Do to Help
1. Get tested. Encourage friends and family members to get tested. Always practice safe sex.
2. Support drug treatment programs, and support needle exchanges. No healthy person likes the idea of intravenous drug use, or the idea of encouraging it, but it’s happening– let’s not compound the already significant problem with spreading a fatal disease.
3. Inform yourself about this illness, so that you can dispel myths when you hear them.
4. Support HIV/AIDS treatment campaigns like “HIV Treatment Works,” “We Can Stop HIV One Conversation at a Time,” and “Start Talking.” (All resources listed at bottom of page.)
5. Support legislation that empowers everyone to take charge of their health and education– that gives them access to health care, birth control options, necessary medication, drug treatment, and critical health education. Have important conversations to promote these ideas.
As always, thanks for reading!