Today is World AIDS Day! The focus is to unite collectively to prevent new HIV infections, support those with HIV/AIDS status, and celebrate the memory of those who have lost their lives to HIV-related illnesses. World AIDS Day is the first global health day, and was founded in 1988. According to the CDC in 2018 (most recent statistics available), nearly 38,000 new cases of HIV were diagnosed in the United States, with people ages 25 to 34 representing the highest age group of new diagnoses.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells in the body that assist with fighting infections, and it makes a person more susceptible to other infections and illnesses. HIV is spread through bodily fluids, such as those transferred through unprotected sexual activity with someone who is infected, through needle sharing, or other contacts where bodily fluids are exchanged. If left untreated, HIV can lead to the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). There is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS, but through the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART), people are living longer, healthier lives, and limiting the exposure of HIV to their loved ones. Also, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can assist with limiting transmission through sex and substance use.
The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested. You can utilize a home self-test, locate HIV testing centers and resources, learn about PrEP, and use prophylaxis during sexual activity as options to protect yourself from exposure to HIV. You can participate in the Red Ribbon Project, and through the use of the following hashtags social media: #WorldAIDSDay #WAD2020 #StopHIVTogether #EndHIVEpidemic #HIV
Let’s do what we can to stop the spread of HIV together!