World AIDS Day is held on December 1st and it is a day dedicated towards spreading awareness and information about the virus. This day allows people to mourn the loss of family, friends, and partners who have fought the virus as well as reminds people to continue to support medical researchers who are actively looking for a cure. In order to demonstrate a network of support for these families, let us take this day to honor all those who fought and are fighting AIDS.
Quick AIDS/ HIV facts:
- HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. While AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
- AIDS is not the same as HIV. HIV is a virus that can lead to AIDS. If infected with HIV, then the virus resides in your blood, particularly white blood cells, which help your immune system. However, people are diagnosed with AIDS when HIV grows and starts killing their immune cells. This weakens their immune system and leaves the person vulnerable to infections and illnesses ranging from pneumonia to cancer. Therefore, AIDS is a stage of HIV in which the immune system becomes very weak due to HIV.
- Nearly 38 million people are living with HIV worldwide. Many of them do not know they are infected and may be spreading the virus to others.
- HIV has not been cured. There is still ongoing research on how to prevent and stop this disease.
- HIV can be transmited through semen, vaginal fluids, anal fluids, breastmilk, and blood
- Although only started in 1988, World Aids day was the first ever global health day!
Best prevention methods:
- Use protection every time
- Use latex condoms or dental dams
- Use a water based lubricant
- Limit the use of alcohol and recreational drugs
- Make sure all needles injected in the body are sterilized
- Do not share injection needles with anyone
- If getting a tattoo, make sure you are going to a sterilized facility that uses single use instruments or pays close attention to recleaning their needles between clients.
COVID and HIV:
People with HIV may have concerns for their risk of COVID19. Here are 2 helpful links. One is from the CDC that answers the general question you may be having. While the other link is from HIV.gov and has specific recommendations on preventable measures that can be taken to avoid getting COVID with HIV. Please note that information on the Coronavirus is still new and being obtained. Changes and updates in information will be posted on these sites.
- HIV.gov: https://clinicalinfo.hiv.gov/en/guidelines/covid-19-and-persons-hiv-interim-guidance/interim-guidance-covid-19-and-persons-hiv?view=full
How can I participate in World AIDS Day?
There are multiple ways to get involved! Whether it be holding an event, spreading awareness, distributing contraceptives, or educating, you can help!
1) Reach out to a local HIV service organization and Volunteer!
These facilities may need your help with providing services like:
- Assisting with onsite or mobile testing events by being a greeter, registrar, health educator, or HIV tester
- Providing administrative support, such as filing, data entry, or answering phones
- Helping out with special events
- Participating in fundraising or advocacy activities
- Providing language skills
- Offering professional services, such as legal assistance or medical care, if licensed
2) Hold events in schools and on campuses
In the U.S., approximately 25 percent of new HIV cases occur among young people between the ages of 13-24. Therefore, it is particularly important for students to speak up and spread awareness through organizational efforts.
Here is an excellent link in event ideas that you can hold at schools to get your community involved: https://www.hrc.org/resources/a-students-guide-to-world-aids-day
Learn more about HIV/ AIDS. Here are some helpful links and resources about preventing, identifying, managing, and treating HIV/AIDS.
4) Connect with others and spread awareness
Spread the word! Let people know that December 1st is a global health day! Here are some great social media infographics that can be shared:
If you have any questions about AIDS, or think that you may have it or be at risk for it, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to schedule an appointment. As always, stay safe and healthy!
-Wellness and Stress Clinic Team