Every 1 December it’s World AIDS Day the day that promotes talking about HIV and attempts to spread information about the disease. By talking about HIV it is hoped that the secrecy surrounding it is eradicated. Greater understanding about HIV and AIDS means less prejudice and better prevention.
HIV is a disease that attacks the body’s immune system and affects the ability to fight infection and disease. AIDS develops when the immune system can no longer fight infections that can normally be combated.
There are several misconceptions that tend to surround HIV. For example that only gay men contract the disease. While more than 34,000 gay men live with HIV in Britain, many are heterosexuals – one third being women.
What about the myth that there are no symptoms of the disease? This is true for some people. But others may develop symptoms that include a rash, fever or a very sore throat.
HIV is a sexually transmitted disease but can also be passed on through sharing of equipment for injecting drugs. While there is no cure for the disease, treatments can help sufferers live active lifestyles, albeit with side effects.
World AIDS Day promotes safe sexual practices and discourages sharing injecting equipment for drugs. While spreading information about HIV and AIDS, events on 1 December are aimed at reducing stigma for those living with HIV.
I wear my red ribbon to symbolise my support for the pro-active attempts to tackle spread of the disease and contribute to reducing discrimination.
If you do one thing on World AIDS Day, learn the facts about HIV and AIDS, help educate friends and family and debunk the myths. With 80,000 people in the UK living with HIV every day, and discrimination the biggest problem among non-sufferers, more than ever it is vital that we raise awareness.