Tuesday, 1 December 2009

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day and the media is red all over the place, so I'm going to share some facts I picked up from the World AIDS Day website.

In the last ten years the number of people living with HIV in the UK has trebled. Three times as many people in ten years! How could we have let this happen? We're an advanced society and we have access to a world of information yet somehow people just don't know much about it.

When people think of HIV or AIDS, normally they either think of people in Africa or the gays. AIDS is just one of those far off things that doesn't affect you... only we can't all be so blasé about it anymore. We need to spread the word, so at least everyone knows what we're even talking about. HIV is a virus that attacks the bodies immune system, it destroys the bodies defence against things we otherwise would have been able to cope with. The difference between HIV and AIDS is its development; someone is considered to have AIDS when the immune system is so weak it can't fight off the diseases humans can normally handle. Imagine an everyday cold escalating into something dangerous, all because your immune system has been shot to pieces.

HIV can be passed on through blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk if infected. The most common ways it can be transmitted are, 1) sex without a condom, 2) shared needles/syringes and 3) From a HIV+ mother to her child during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.

This is something that is affecting more and more people and has no cure. Now days we have pretty effective treatment for HIV to keep the immune system healthy but if left too late that's not going to be all that useful.

Let's all try to raise awareness. That's what World AIDS day is all about, along with raising money, fighting prejudice and increasing education. And if you want to do more check out the link below for ways to help raise money or for events.

HIV is a threat to men, women and children all over the world and shouldn't just be dismissed as something that could never affect you. There is a lot of stigma around HIV/AIDS, either down to peoples own fear or ideas on what it must mean about a persons lifestyle if they have the disease. This stigma often fuels other prejudices, such as homophobic behaviour. A lot of the time prejudices are the result of little or no real understanding on a subject. People fear what they don't understand. So let's take a stand to tackle this stigma and to try to help the people affected.

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