Hey ladies, today is World AIDS Day. Living in the age of information gives us access to ALL THE INFORMATION™ and I’m here to share just what you need to know!
Living a long and happy life with HIV/AIDS is possible today but this doesn’t exempt the virus from having crippling effects on our communities. Since the start of the epidemic around 75 million people have become infected with HIV globally [UNAIDS]. Not only is it still here with us, but many people living with HIV face high levels of stigma and discrimination which create a barrier when accessing HIV services.
The best way to helping fight the epidemic starts with informing ourselves and creating inclusive spaces in our communities that include our HIV positive brothers and sisters.
- Origin Of HIV/AIDS: HIV is believed to have been caught from chimpanzees in the 1920’s as a result of chimps carrying the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV), a virus closely related to HIV, being hunted and eaten by people living in the area [AVERT]. In the 1980’s, it became a global epidemic and as it was initially reported in gay men this period also saw to the increase of bigotry towards the LGBTQ community and a resulting (ands still ongoing) uprise in equality activism [POZ].
- Who It Affects: Early in the 80’s, most claims suggested that it affected sex worker communities, heroin users and gay communities but it soon became clear that the disease was affecting other populations and that really, anyone could be infected. At this point, the disease was known as AIDS: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. In Rwanda today, A gender breakdown shows that women are more impacted by HIV/AIDS than men. Women’s prevalence rate is 3.7% compared with 2.2% for men. This gender difference is even higher when looking at young people (20-24). In this age group, women are five times more infected than men of the same age.
- Difference Between HIV And AIDS: HIV is a virus which later developed to a condition which we call AIDS. In other words, the 3rd (and final) stage of HIV is medically known as AIDS. It’s important to note that consistent care and treatment can control the progress of the virus and prevent the development of AIDS.
- Defining Moment In History: 27 years ago in 1991, Magic Johnson was the first well known sportsman and celebrity to disclose his HIV status. At that time, there were even more misconceptions about HIV/AIDS and his transparence was deemed very courageous. Since then he’s dedicated a lot of time and effort to educate people on HIV/AIDS. His announcement also significantly helped with decreasing the stigma around HIV/AIDS. The late Nelson Mandela was very clear on where he stands when it comes to HIV/AIDS stigmatisation, in particular talking about children infected with HIV, he stated that: “The stigma and discrimination inflicted on these children are atrocious and inexcusable. And likewise, it is inexcusable to subject any person infected or affected by HIV or AIDS to such abuse and rejection. We must therefore tackle the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS with even greater urgency. We must show that we care for all those affected by this terrible disease and that we are doing something about it.”
- Infection Can Be Diagnosed By A Simple Test: A blood or saliva test is all it takes to detect the presence of antibodies produced by the body to fight the HIV virus. Another way to detect the virus is by looking for antigens (proteins made by the virus). These both provide accurate results that you can surely trust!