Saturday, December 1st is the thirtieth anniversary of World Aids Day. While scientific advances in HIV/AIDS research have resulted in anti-retroviral drugs like Prep and more awareness about safe sex contribute to a health problem that is not thought of as the alarming death sentence of the 80’s, AIDS is still a world-wide problem. It’s nothing to be complacent about.
It is estimated that 35 million people have acquired the disease. The symptoms don’t show up initially. In fact, many people don’t even know they have HIV. AIDS is caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection which is primarily a sexually transmitted disease. However, you can also succumb from contaminated body fluids such as sharing needles or even blood transfusions.
Because stigma and discrimination still deter people from taking a HIV test, they often don’t test until they feel symptoms. Often, they are initially too scarred to know the truth. The disease compromises your immune system and makes your body more prone to various infections such as pneumonia.
The purpose of World AIDS Day is to raise awareness about the importance of knowing your status from testing and to remove all barriers to accessing HIV testing. You will see interested people at United Nations agencies, governments and civil society, including schools joining to campaign around #WAD2018. They wear red ribbons and brooches to signify their support.
At present, the countries worst hit are Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, South Africa and Nambia. CIA WORLD Facebook reports that 27.2% of the population in Swaziland is carrying the disease. According to a Joint U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS in 2017, 940,000 people died from related illnesses. This is the raison d’etre to know your status. It’s important not only for your own health, but also the health of others.
This same joint U.N. Program launched in 2014 contains the 90-90-90 agenda. The goal was to diagnose 90% of all HIV-positive persons, provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 90% of those diagnosed and achieve viral suppression for 90% of those treated by 2020.
To find out where to get tested and what tests you need in a fast, free, confidential setting near you, visit https://gettested.cdc.gov.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.