Educate Yourself on World AIDS Day

December 1st is the International Day of AIDS ( Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) awareness and remembrance.  People worldwide will wear a red ribbon as a symbol of their awareness and remembrance of those who are suffering with the illness and who have died of AIDS.  The colour red was chosen for its “‘connection to blood and the idea of passion…”.   Wearing a red ribbon shows solidarity in erasing the stigma and prejudice surrounding AIDS.

AIDS is a chronic and life-threatening condition caused by HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).  It can be spread through sex with someone who is infected, or by contact with the blood of someone infected with the virus, and it can be passed to a child during pregnancy.  Without medication, it can take years for HIV to weaken your immune system before you develop AIDS.  Although there is no cure, there are medications that can slow the progress of HIV before it turns into AIDS.

Unfortunately, stigma and discrimination get in the way of people seeking to be tested and get help for HIV.  Many years ago it was assumed that it could only be contracted by homosexuals through sex, or haemophiliacs from blood transfusions.  Hence, it was thought that heterosexuals couldn’t get HIV or AIDS, which over time researchers have proved that this is not so and anybody can contract HIV and thus AIDS.  So, people would hide their symptoms and not seek help which would only increase numbers of people contracting the virus.  Awareness of the scientific facts about HIV and AIDS over the years has changed that and now people are more willing to seek help and be more open about the illness so that they don’t pass it on.  Awareness and education have lessened the stigma and is working to end the pandemic of AIDS.  UNAIDS is a “joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS and the main advocate for accelerated, comprehensive, and coordinated global action on the HIV/AIDS pandemic”.  UNAIDS has a “visionary goal to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”

The Canadian AIDS Society supports UNAIDS and focuses on awareness for the week of November 21st to December 1st.  There are many testing centres for you to get tested.

So, on December 1st, wear a red ribbon to help increase awareness of HIV and AIDS, and show your support for those suffering or who have died because of this terrible illness.

 

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