December the first every year you will see a ton of red ribbons and individuals talking about world AIDS Day. World AIDS day is critical because it allows charities and individuals to talk about a subject which is very taboo.
HIV is a virus that is spread through certain body fluids, which attacks the body’s immune system. Over time HIV can destroy so many of cells that results in the body not being able to fight off infections and diseases. AIDS is more advanced, and deadly part of HIV, if someone with HIV doesn’t get treatment, then there is a high chance it can develop into AIDS, AIDS is a disease in which there is a severe loss of the body’s cellular immunity, greatly lowering the resistance of infection and malignancy.
Statistically 36.7 millions people globally are living with HIV, which is a huge figure. In the 1980’s there was a huge influx of individuals being diagnosed with AIDS which started the huge epidemic, Gay people were being abused, individuals with HIV were panicking for their lives, people were loosing friends and it was a massive crisis across the globe. Since the 1980’s AIDS epidemic, there have been a lot of changes within the UK, for example gay men weren’t allowed to give blood unless they haven’t had sex for 1 year (It has only recently changed to three months).
Here are some facts, and myths surrounding HIV and AIDS:
- Individuals with HIV can lead a healthy, long life as long as they take the medication they are provided – When an individual is diagnosed with HIV they have to take tablets on a daily basis to keep the HIV within the blood at 0, which means it causes them no harm, and it causes their sexual partners no harm.
- HIV cannot be passed through drinks, food, clothes or cigarettes – HIV can be passed through bodily fluids such as blood, vaginal / anal fluids, semen and breast milk.
- It is predominantly gay men who have HIV – It has been statistically proven that there are more heterosexual people in the world with HIV than homosexual. When the AIDS epidemic was happening the LGBT+ community was automatically at fault because we are “Dirty” which isn’t true.
In 2016 I shaved off my hair to fund-raise money for the Terrance Higgins Trust, a charity that supports those individuals who have HIV, and to encourage people to practice safe sex. When I shaved my head I raised £300, which was an amazing figure for my first fundraising event. This year I have decided to do a raffle, and I am so excited to see how much I have fund-raised for the charity again, as they are such an amazing charity.
2 years ago I slept with an individual who was HIV positive, but didn’t know about it at the time. I remember having to get tested around Christmas in 2015, it was one of the most scariest experiences I had ever gone through, before this I had no idea about what HIV was, but afterwords I decided to educate myself, and now I ensure those around me know the facts about HIV and how easy it is to contract if you don’t perform safe sex.
Most people infected with HIV experience a short, flu-like illness that occurs 2-6 weeks after infection. After this, HIV may not cause any symptoms for several years. It is estimated that up to 80% of people who are infected with HIV experience this flu-like illness. Signs and symptoms of HIV:
- Raised temperature
- Sore throat
- Body Rash
- Joint Pain
How to prevent catching HIV:
- Use condoms – Even if you’re ashamed to ask your sexual partner, make sure you do.
- Get tested – Have a sexual health check up every 3 months to eliminate spreading HIV on.
- Ask your sexual partner questions – Asking your sexual partners what their HIV status is can sometimes be embarrassing, and silly. But ensuring that you’re both safe is key!
- If you are injecting, ensure that you use a clean needle, never share needles as this increases your risk of catching HIV.
- HIV prevention medication – If you’re HIV negative, you may be able to take Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (Prep) medication to reduce your risk of getting the virus.
On World AIDS Day take your time in educating those around you about HIV & AIDS, Raise money for local charities, hold events within your workplace / school / college / university.