This article was published on November 30th, 2021
World AIDS day happens on the first of December. It is an annual event that is an opportunity for people worldwide to fight against AIDS and raise awareness. It is also an homage to those who have died because of the disease. The first world AIDS day took place in 1988, at the height of the AIDS pandemic.
An estimated 35 million people have died from HIV or AIDS-related illnesses since its identification in 1984. It is undoubtedly one of the most destructive pandemics in history. Currently, in North America alone, there are around 2 million people living with the disease.
We can see that AIDS adversely affects the gay community, but new HIV/AIDS infections are on the decline, especially in the gay community, since its invention and use. People in our community often forget that we are not the only population affected by HIV aids. It is important to remember that the disease can affect anyone regardless of their sexuality.
HIV does not only affect the gay community. In fact, in the developed world, occupational exposure affects many healthcare workers to HIV yearly. If we look at third-world countries, they are even more affected than those in developed countries. 90% of those infected with HIV in third world countries are between the ages of 10 and 49, meaning there are serious upcoming implications for the third world.
What can we do on world AIDS day to make a difference for the community?
One of the most important things we can do to help decrease the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS is spread information about the spread of HIV. For starters, many people think you can get HIV/AIDS from hugging someone or kissing them on the cheek. If we can nip these inaccuracies in the bud, we will never be able to stand in solidarity and advance the AIDS movement.
The next thing we can do is continue to push local governments to fund public research into AIDS and HIV to develop a cure. Since the COVID crisis, we are on the way to having a cure for AIDS, and Long gone are the days when people think AIDS is a plague on the gay community. We now have antiretrovirals that can help us to live longer, healthier lives after seroconverting. Still, we are not close enough to a vaccine or cure because of government cuts to funding. The UK, for example, cut funding into HIV/AIDS research, and it has had global implications.
Finding a cure.
PrEP and other medications can help us stay safe. But did you know that this is a luxury only afforded to those in the first world? Third-world countries are too poor to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS. It is reversing decades of progress we have made. So, pressuring governments to continue to fund the cause is vital to maintaining the momentum and progress we’ve made in the world around HIV.
If you want to take a less active role in world AIDS day while still making a difference, you can get tested for HIV. When you get tested, you normalize the process, and it can help prevent the spread of HIV, which turns into AIDS if untreated. There are many options for getting tested, and they are all free. If you want to test at home, you can order a kit and send it to your home. Likewise, you can schedule a free appointment at your local clinic. If you are worried it might be too expensive because you are uninsured, many free clinics offer HIV testing at no charge.
When we test and spread the word, we stop the prevention. How will you help out on world AIDS day and contribute to making the world an AIDS-free place? Let us know how you will help in the comments.