Although we are in the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic, let’s not dare to forget that the HIV/AIDS pandemic “still a keep”. In these times, we need to be extra cautious as the other diseases such as dengue, tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS are claiming the lives of tens of thousands.
Every year on December 1st, we pause to recognise World AIDS Day. This is an opportunity for the world to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS. As well as, to extend our support to the people diagnosed and to remember those who lost their battle against the disease. At the recent International Men’s Day Ceremony, Dr Kevin Harvey, the Caribbean Regional Director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Jamaica, shared some sobering statistics on the disease:
It isn’t enough that we only raise awareness of global HIV//AIDS statistics, but we must ensure that we:
- Continue to teach the public the truth about the virus
- Educate the public about the symptoms and treatments of the disease
- Remain steadfast with the effort to end the stigma attached to an HIV/AIDS diagnosis.
HIV/AIDS is Still a Very Big Problem
Despite the dramatic decrease in cases since someone first identified HIV/AIDS in 1983, there’s still much more to do. Modern medications have made it possible to live long, healthy lives, but HIV is still spreading, and treatments are not available to everyone. According to the UNAIDS, HIV continues to be a significant global public health issue, having claimed over 32.7 million lives. In 2019, approximately 690,000 people died from HIV-related illnesses globally.
Remove the Stigma
Fear of stigma is one of the main reasons people are reluctant to get tested, disclose their HIV status and take antiretroviral drugs. The trauma of HIV-related stigma can be shattering to an individual and can cause long term emotional strain. We need to remove the stigmas and misconceptions to help slow the spreading of the disease. We also need to know the facts about HIV and how somebody can contract the disease. For instance, did you know that anyone, at any age, can be exposed to and contract HIV/AIDS?
Below are some facts about HIV/AIDS:
Know your Status
As important as it is to raise awareness, it is equally important to know your status. Don’t be afraid to get tested. An unknown positive status has no chance of being treated, so get to know your status today!. The AHF offers free walk-in HIV and STI tests which are accurate, anonymous and rapid. It is important to remember that a positive HIV test is not a death sentence. You can still lead a healthy, long and happy life like thousands of people are doing today.
Show your support this World AIDS Day by wearing your red ribbon, educating yourself on the disease and if you’re looking to go beyond that, visit the AHF website. There you can view statistics, news and information on how the government, private sector and civil society are collectively making a difference. That way, you will be able to be a part of the arsenal to end the stigma by sharing accurate information about the virus. Doing that is one of the best ways to show your support.