World AIDS Day is celebrated all across the globe, every year on December 1st. Started in 1988, this has been the first ever universal health day of its kind. So, why is this day important? This day acts as a platform for people all over the world, to come together and join hands in this global fight against HIV. On this day, people remember the ones who lost their lives fighting this deadly battle and show their support to all the people who are living with HIV.
But, ask yourself, is this enough? With the virus being discovered very recently in 1984, more than 35 million people have already died because of HIV and AIDS virus. One day every year to remember 35 million deaths? One day to show solidarity to 36.7 million people who are living with HIV? No, it’s clearly not enough. So, as the saying goes, ‘Every day is World AIDS day’, we must come together every day to show our support because this is not an easy fight. The stigma and the negativity attached to this disease makes it even harder for the people suffering from this disease.
Understanding HIV and AIDS
- It is important to understand that HIV and AIDS are not the same. HIV is basically a virus that attacks one’s immune system. And, when this condition is not treated it becomes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
- Anyone can contract HIV, regardless of their class, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity. HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk.
- The common misconception amongst people is that AIDS kills. AIDS causes fever, chills, sweats, swollen lymph glands, weakness, and loss of weight, but this doesn’t kill. However, due to infections, such as pneumonia and various cancers, people with AIDS are unable to fight them due to their weakened immune system.
- Everyone between the age of 13-65 should get tested for HIV at least once, especially if you are sexually active. There is no shame in getting tested or openly talking about it. After all, precaution is better than cure.
- If someone is at risk of getting HIV, they can use pre-exposure prophylaxis to reduce their chances of contracting this virus. Also, it is not necessary that a pregnant woman with HIV will pass it on to her baby. If the pregnant women, starts the ART treatment at the earliest, the possibilities of transmitting HIV to the baby becomes 1% or less.
- You will not contract HIV with everyday contacts, such as hugging, shaking hands, using the same swimming pools, toilet seats, sharing the same bed, eating utensils, food, insect bites, coughing, sneezing, etc.
The Stigma Surrounding HIV and AIDS
Today, despite having the means to educate themselves about HIV and AIDS, people choose to ignore it. Carrying their preconceived notions, most of them are quick to judge and discriminate and because of this HIV-related stigma, people loses their jobs, income, relationships, reputation, healthcare options, etc., which leads to a lot of psychological damage.
Every Individual Counts
World Health Organization, with its slogan “Everybody Counts” aims to advocate the access to safe, effective, reliable, and quality health care for everyone affected and the ones vulnerable to the virus. It aims to help people get medication, treatment, diagnosis, and help at reasonable prices ensuring quality and correct treatment. World AIDS Day is a reminder to one and all, that HIV and AIDS are still prevailing and there is still a fight to fight, there are still people to love, there is still help to be given, and there is still room for hope.
So, what can you do on this World AIDS Day to show your support?
There have been technological advancements and improvements in the treatment of HIV, but there is still need to increase awareness and education amongst the masses. Here are a few small ways we can help bring about awareness, change, and acceptance.
- Volunteer- Volunteer at an NGO that supports the people and children who suffer from AIDS. Provide supplies, donate, go meet the patients and spend time with them.
- Educate- Make people around you understand that the stigma behind AIDS is wrong. Arrange a seminar or small talk in your school, college, office, or elsewhere to promote healthcare equality and improvement. Even if you change the minds of 2 people, it is two more people supporting a huge cause.
- Fundraise- Fundraising is a great way to provide help. Host a fundraiser to collect donations and funds for the people in need. Even a small amount from 10 people adds up. So get going, and get fundraising!
- Donate to a charity that fights for this cause- Nowadays, a donation isn’t just money you give away. Many websites and NGOs give out bracelets and ribbons to help you show support outside, with every donation that you make. There are many merchandises that you can buy, 100% of whose proceeds go to charity and healthcare.
- Don your support- On this day, a lot of people don the red ribbon to show HIV awareness and their support. You will notice this on various social media pages, blogs, etc.- you can do the same!
So, what happens after the World AIDS day ends? People suffering from HIV and AIDS need your support every day. So, why stop? Let us come together to combat the stigma. It is important to continue showing our compassion, care, love, and unity. And, above all, it is important to be kind. A single act of kindness can indubitably make a difference.
Finally, let’s end it.
Let’s end the stigma
Let’s end the isolation.