Every Day Should Be World AIDS Day!

December 1st is the day set aside to commemorate the lives lost to the HIV/AIDS epidemic around the globe.

Today, hundreds of thousands of events are taking place here in the US and around the world, to bring awareness to the disease, and to raise funds for a cure.

The real facts are here:

  • 33.4 MILLION people world wide are living with AIDS.
  • Africa has over 14 million AIDS orphans.
  • At the end of 2008, women accounted for 50% of all adults living with HIV worldwide
  • In developing and transitional countries, 9.5 million people are in immediate need of life-saving AIDS drugs; of these, only 4 million (42%) are receiving the drugs.
  • Heterosexual African-American women ages 18-35 represent the predominant population of new HIV/AIDS cases in America.

…and while new AIDS cases are down by 20% this year…there is still more work to be done.

So…here’s the kicker.

If you didn’t know HIV & AIDS are 100% preventable. If you’re interested in having sex…there is NO REASON that you should not be protecting yourself. Or, you could just be abstinent/celibate. Either way…you have the power to do your part to stop the epidemic dead in it’s tracks.

But the attention on AIDS should not stop once today ends, because AIDS doesn’t stop. Every day should be World AIDS Day. While it may not be in your face everyday… it’s always going to be present until we get the word out. In our community, much like many other difficult topics, we tend to shy away from talking about HIV & AIDS…which is doing more harm than good. Many people subscribe to the notion that talking about HIV & AIDS promotes sexual activity…but the truth of the matter is, not sharing is killing off more people than candid, mature discussion about the topic.

My junior year at Hampton I took an HIV test for the first time. It was more of a social experiment than a diagnostic action for me.

I had been assigned the task of covering the World AIDS Day Events on campus…so I dropped into the health center to speak with the organization that was giving free tests. To my surprise, there was no one there waiting to be tested. On a campus of 6,000 students…I was shocked and disappointed.

I explained my situation to the testing coordinator, and she suggested that I go through the rapid test, so that I’d be able to tell the story from a first person view. Since I wasn’t participating in any of the high risk behaviors (needle sharing & sex of any kind)… I wasn’t really concerned as my mouth was swabbed.

But as I sat in the waiting area…for the 15 minutes the test takes to process… alone with my thoughts…I began getting nervous. All the what if’s came crashing into my head (completely unwarranted, of course. I’m dramatic like that.) … The coordinator called me back to the room and delivered the results, I was negative…and she gave me even more facts for my story.

I shared that because, I wanted everyone to know how easy it is to do it. Get tested, and if you’re scared, take a friend with you.

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