December 1st is World AIDS Day, a day for not only encouraging people to be aware of HIV and AIDS, but to also act aware.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the pathogen that leads to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV compromises the immune system meaning that individuals cannot fight off infectious bacteria and viruses. As a result, AIDS may develop from exposure to pathogens that a strong immune system could normally fight off.
Act to Prevent
Prevention of HIV and AIDS is directly related to actions such as using condoms during sexual intercourse and not sharing needles (including needles used for tattooing and illegal drug use). HIV cannot be passed on by kissing, hugging, or otherwise interacting with an infected individual.
Act to Reduce Stigma
HIV stigma is still extensive worldwide and it is not uncommon for individuals with HIV to be avoided, segregated and humiliated. This may be due to a fear and a lack of understanding of the condition leaving people to believe that HIV can be easily transmitted in social settings. The stigma of HIV may unfortunately dissuade individuals from getting tested or from disclosing that they have HIV to sexual partners.
Act to Advocate and Educate
HIV and AIDS are devastating Sub-Saharan Africa with over 22 million people affected1. Although anti-retroviral treatments have been developed to treat HIV, the availability of these drugs to specific populations is greatly limited.
In Canada, HIV awareness and education is not as extensive as it was in the 1980s when the virus first showed in North America. However, HIV is still a public health concern with over 58,000 Canadians with HIV and many not knowing they are infected2. As a result, we need to ensure that HIV and AIDS Awareness stays strong.
For more information on World AIDS day please visit http://www.worldaidsday.org/