December 1st marks Worlds AIDS Day, a vitally important day for raising awareness of HIV/AIDS, tackling HIV stigma, helping charities working on HIV/AIDS to raise funds and perhaps most critically, educating ourselves.
Whilst HIV does not discriminate, it is no secret that it has disproportionately affected gay men in particular, both historically and still to this day.
It’s fair to say that there has been incredible progress made when it comes to tackling HIV, both through treatment as prevention and stopping onward transmission with treatment rendering someone who is HIV positive completely undetectable and therefore untransmittable i.e U=U.
However, whilst this is great progress, not all treatments are globally available and therefore HIV and Aids still pose a threat in certain parts of the world.
Let’s learn together, raise awareness and show our support and solidarity for all those affected.
What is World AIDS Day?
World AIDS Day takes place on 1st December each year and started in 1988.
It’s a moment for people to unite in the fight against HIV, raise awareness, educate themselves and others, to show support for people living with HIV, support charities working to end HIV and to commemorate those who have lost their lives from an AIDS-related illness.
You will see many people wearing a red ribbon; this is the universal symbol of awareness and support for people living with HIV. Wearing a ribbon is a great way to raise awareness on and during the run up to World AIDS Day.
Given the nature of 2020, the National Aids Trust has created virtual red ribbons which you can place in email signatures and on social media – get your virtual red ribbon here.
What is HIV and AIDS?
HIV, as defined by the NHS is:
”HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that damages the cells in your immune system and weakens your ability to fight everyday infections and disease.”
Globally, there are an estimated 38 million people who have the virus and it can be treated (see below).
AIDS as defined by the NHS is:
”AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is the name used to describe a number of potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses that happen when your immune system has been severely damaged by the HIV virus.”
Is HIV treatable? What does U=U mean?
If you only take one thing away from this article it should be this:
HIV is treatable, effective treatment (a couple of tablets a day) means a HIV-positive person can become undetectable (have an undetectable viral load) which means they can not pass HIV to another person.
”Antiretroviral medicines are used to treat HIV. They work by stopping the virus replicating in the body, allowing the immune system to repair itself and preventing further damage.
These come in the form of tablets, which need to be taken every day.
The goal of HIV treatment is to have an undetectable viral load. This means the level of HIV virus in your body is low enough to not be detected by a test.” NHS website.
Please head over to the NHS website for a full explanation of treatment, symptoms, diagnosis and more information.
What can I do to help & find further information?
First things first, please read, educate yourself and share that knowledge with others.
Second, if you can, support charities working on HIV, AIDS and supporting the LGBTQ+ community such as (these also provide lots of information):
Finally for further information and reading: