Words by Lily Pritchard
December 1, World AIDS Day, is an opportunity to take action. It is a chance to promote testing and to help reduce stigma and discrimination around HIV and AIDS.
The message is for people to ‘Act Aware’ and ‘Fact Up’ about living with HIV in the 21st Century and to use this knowledge to protect themselves and others from infection.
As part of the #FactUp campaign, people are asked to send in images and videos of them getting the facts out there. So, here’s what you need to know.
33.4 million are currently living with HIV/AIDS and more than 25 million people have died worldwide since the first cases were reported in 1981. Shockingly, 1 in 5 people who are living with the disease don’t know they have it, including 15,000 in London. If you have never had a Sexual Health Test, now is the time to do so.
You may not know that people living with HIV have a normal life span if diagnosed and treated in time, on average four years after contracting the virus.
There is no job which someone can not do specifically because they have HIV. Treatment can mean that people are no longer infectious and men and women living with HIV can become parents of an HIV-free baby.
HIV is not passed on through touching, shaking hands, kissing or sharing utensils. The majority of new HIV diagnoses in 2010 were acquired heterosexually, while approximately a third of people with HIV in the UK are women.
Now you know the facts, it’s time to get involved. There are plenty of things you can do to help spread the message. Join the ‘Facing AIDS’ initiative and share the inspiring photos and messages from the Facing AIDS photo gallery on their website.
If you run a blog or website, adding the simple widget can make a huge difference. The website has one which allows people to search for testing services, housing providers, health centres and other service providers near their current location.
They also have graphics, badges, posters and flyers for you to download and use to show your support or promote an event.
Speaking of events, there are an abundance of free events you can attend including film screenings, candlelit processions, live music, poetry readings, coffee mornings, bake sales, ETC! Visit the website to find out which events are near you.
Another simple idea is to wear the red ribbon. You can also share any messages of encouragement on social media using #FacingAIDS.
Lastly, if you have been affected by anything you’ve read here or on the website then you can donate, which is probably the most valuable contribution of all.