Home Health News World AIDS Day: Go Get Tested!

World AIDS Day: Go Get Tested!

by Erika Nicole Kendall

From the World AIDS Day website:

What is World AIDS Day?

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.

Why is World AIDS Day important?

More than 90,000 people are currently living with HIV in the UK and globally an estimated 33.3 million people have HIV. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

What should I do on World AIDS Day?

World AIDS Day is an opportunity for you to learn the facts about HIV and put your knowledge into action. If you understand how HIV is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and the reality of living with HIV today – you can use this knowledge to take care of your own health and the health of others, and ensure you treat everyone living with HIV fairly, and with respect and understanding. Click here to find out the facts.

You can also show your support for people living with HIV on World AIDS Day by wearing a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness.

World AIDS Day is also a great opportunity to raise money for NAT and show your support for people living with HIV. If you feel inspired to hold an event, bake sale or simply sell red ribbons, click here to get started. If you’d like to see what other events are taking place — click here and find out more.

But what about after World AIDS Day?

Although World AIDS Day is a great opportunity to get the public talking about HIV and fundraise, we need to remember the importance of raising awareness of HIV all year round. That’s why NAT has launched HIVaware — a fun, interactive new website which provides all the information everyone should know about HIV. Why not use what you have learnt on World AIDS Day to Act Aware throughout the year and remember, you can fundraise at any time of year too — NAT is always here to give you suggestions and ideas.

From the Black Women’s Health Imperative website:

Every 35 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in this country.  Yet the impact of HIV among Black women and girls is even more startling.  Nationally, Black women account for 66% of new cases of HIV among women.  HIV/AIDS related illness is now the leading cause of death among Black women ages 25-34. As the national dialogue focuses on strategies for addressing the HIV epidemic in this country, the need is greater than ever for a heightened among Black women in HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care.

Why is this important for Black women?

HIV/AIDS infection among Black women is a complex mix of economic, social, cultural, biological, environmental, and behavioral factors.   HIV statistics about Black women are often buried within the statistics of the general HIV/AIDS population, or are lumped together with statistics on Black men.  This practice disguises the compelling evidence that Black women represent a disproportionate number of HIV/AIDS cases, compared to our representation in the overall female population in the US.  The harsh reality is that 1 in 30 Black women will be diagnosed with HIV at some point in her life.  With Black women accounting for nine out of ten new HIV infections among women, it is important to acknowledge and understand how social and gender inequities and cultural dynamics shape our perceptions and realities of the disease.

What do Black women need to know?

So much has been made in the media about the poor health status of Black women that we have become desensitized to the barrage of health statistics and may be tuning out important health messages.  However, this is one health crisis that we cannot ignore.  In addition to shortening our lives, HIV/AIDS is compromising our quality of life and the vitality of our families and communities.

We must take steps to increase awareness and eliminate stigma and stereotypes about HIV/AIDS in order to begin to effectively address the HIV epidemic among Black Women.  The first step to HIV prevention is learning the facts and accepting the reality that any woman who is sexually active is at risk.

How does someone become infected with HIV?

Since HIV is transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk, engaging in any activity that includes exposure to these fluids places a person at risk for HIV infection, including:

  • having unprotected (not using a male or female condom for vaginal or anal sex; not using a condom, dental dam, or other barrier for oral sex) oral, vaginal or anal sex with an infected person
  • sharing needles or syringes of any kind with an infected person
  • transmitting the virus from an infected mother to her child during pregnancy, birth or through breastfeeding

HIV Prevention and Risk Reduction

The only 100% sure way to prevent HIV infection is to abstain from sexual activity and drug use.  To abstain means not having vaginal, anal, or oral sex, and not using drugs of any kind.

Beyond that, there are steps we can take to protect ourselves and reduce our risk of becoming HIV infected:

  • Knowing our HIV status by taking an HIV test
  • Discussing HIV testing and practicing safer sex with our partner
  • Practicing safer sex – using protective latex barriers (male or female condoms, dental dams)  for vaginal, anal, and oral sex every time we have sex
  • Not sharing needles of any kind including drug needles, piercing needles, or tattoo needles.

What’s most important, here, is knowing your status. Knowing isn’t “half the battle” in this case; knowing is “the victory.” Empower yourself to protect not only yourself and your loved ones. Go get tested.

NYC, you have no excuse. Testing for both sexually transmitted infections and diseases as well as HIV is free:

STD Clinics accept patients from 8:30am – 3:00pm. Patients are serviced on a first come, first served basis. No appointment is necessary. Persons in need of primary care (including a routine STD checkup) will be referred to low/no cost services. The number of patients admitted to each clinic depends on the number of clinician hours per day, which is different in each site each day. Thus, we may at times, need to halt patient intake earlier then 3pm.

NOTE: Minors do NOT need parental consent for exams and treatment. For more information, call 311. These clinics are located in all five boroughs, with some having Saturday hours.

So, young girls, if you’re worried… go talk to someone.

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Kaycee December 1, 2011 - 3:00 PM

Actually, almost no city unless than 7500 people (I believe) has an excuse. The federal government funds free HIV testing year-round in nearly every city.

Get tested yall!

Tachae December 3, 2011 - 7:59 PM

Got tested and it feels good to know FOR SURE I’m negative. 🙂

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