Today, Sunday, December 1, 2019, is World AIDS Day all across our globe. It is the day when it is appropriate for all of us to wear a red ribbon – if a bare practitioner (naturist or nudist) such as my spouse, Aaron, and myself, paint a red ribbon – and proudly display to everyone you encounter that you recognize the importance and significance of the date. The quality of life living with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) has improved but we do not have a cure – yet!
The red ribbon is the internationally recognized awareness symbol for HIV/AIDS prevention and education. It was jointly adopted by both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Council on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) due to the visual impact that it shared and the compassion that it generated. Since it was first selected, it has inspired both hope and success for the millions worldwide who strive to end this global pandemic among all people.
HIV/AIDS Basic Facts:
HIV = human immunodeficiency virus
AIDS = acquired immunodeficiency disease syndrome
There are a total of five (5) basic facts essential to both HIV-1 and/or HIV-2 infections. These are as follows:
- HIV is the virus that destroys the human immune system (the body part that fights off diseases and infections).
- AIDS is a direct result of un-medicated or untreated HIV infection.
- HIV is not transmitted (spread) through everyday, casual contact.
- HIV can be diagnosed (determined) only by a physician (doctor).
- HIV is transmitted (spread) through blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk from one infected person to another.
HIV-1 and HIV-2 infections are both a treatable (manageable) disease. It is important for all of us to understand that the earlier the infection is discovered, the better the chances are for a healthy and productive quality of life. Newer and more effective medications and treatments are being made available all over the world. Access to medicines and treatments is available only under medical determination.
“It’s not who we are, it’s what we do that puts us at risk for HIV infection.”
Knowledge = Power
This is a simple formula or equation that is so very important in many aspects of our human lives. Knowing as much as possible allows us the freedom to make choices to improve ourselves not only as a human but also in the way that we affect or impact the lives of those that we love.
Being tested for HIV and knowing our HIV status gives us the power to determine for ourselves the quality of life that we enjoy and have and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of all of those we love and hold dear. When we share our test results with our loved ones (partners, spouses, family and friends), we not only set a living example; we also gain the ability to educate by eliminating distrust, fear, hatred and ignorance.
“The most powerful lessons in life are learned through experience.”
Benefits of Knowing Your HIV Test Results:
In addition to the above Knowledge = Power facts offered in the above section, there are other benefits available from HIV testing. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
HIV Negative (not infected)
The fact that we are determined to be infection-free also offers us the opportunity to become a participant in PrEP. This is a daily pill that is more than 90% effective in preventing HIV transmission (spreading) through sexual activities. It is not that beneficial in HIV prevention through substance use. PrEP subscribers are periodically tested for HIV throughout the year to verify (confirm) their status.
HIV Positive (living with HIV)
A HIV+ test result isn’t the bad or fateful news that it was considered as little as ten to twenty years ago. With all of the advances in medicine and science, HIV has evolved (become) a very treatable virus with persons experiencing noticeably productive lives. The U=U (undetectable = un-transmittable) campaign has become remarkably successful in eradicating (removing) HIV stigma (distrust). A viral load (level of infection) that is undetectable (not showing) has now proved that HIV is un-transmittable (is not spread). Sexual and social isolation is no longer an immediate assumption or expectation.
The Red Ribbon Campaign
The red awareness ribbon is internationally recognized as a symbol of HIV awareness and support. It is not used simply on World AIDS Day, but is widely distributed and worn on any occasion to represent the same message. The red ribbon is used all across the world in every country.
In 1991, a decade following the emergence of HIV, twelve artists gathered in a gallery in New York City’s East Village neighborhood. They had gathered to develop a new project for Visual AIDS – a New York based HIV awareness arts organization. It was during this meeting that they created the Red Ribbon Campaign, a symbol worn to signify awareness and support for people living with HIV and to all persons involved in their service.
Their inspiration came from the yellow ribbons that people wore to support troops fighting in the Gulf War. They decided to avoid the traditional colors associated with the same gender loving (gay) community, such as pink or the rainbow stripes, in order to support the fact that HIV/AIDS was relevant to everyone.
How to Make A Red Ribbon
Using the diagram shown below, along with a spool of red ribbon and a safety pin, create your own red ribbon.
- From a spool of red ribbon, cut off a piece (depending on size desired) and loop one end over the other end
- Using a safety pin, fasten the loop together where the two ends intersect.
Is World AIDS Day Still Relevant?
Now that the “Age of AIDS” has now surpassed thirty years, many people are wondering if the observance of World AIDS Day is still important or even necessary. Until we have an absolute cure for HIV infection and that cure is affordable and available to everyone – no matter where they live or what they believe – the the answer to that question is a very emphatic “yes!” This is an issue that concerns us all.
Until the HIV test is a routine process in our health care procedure, the answer to this question is once again a very energetic “yes!” HIV isn’t going to completely disappear overnight. In fact, in the USA today, there are approximately 25% of the population living with HIV who remain totally ignorant of the fact that they are even infected with the virus. This fact alone supports the importance and necessity of continuing to observe World AIDS Day. In some countries, the percentage of the population living with HIV and are unaware of their infection equals one third or even higher.
There is no way that anyone has the prerogative to decide any aspect of the health of others, known or unknown. As long as HIV poses a threat to the health or the life of others, it becomes a real threat to all of us. None of us are immune to the virus that causes AIDS. As long as there is no cure or vaccine, we should all do whatever we are able to help eliminate this disease.
Author’s Note: I want to thank both my spouse, Aaron Peterson-Poladopoulos, and his older brother, David Peterson, for their editing and proofreading of today’s posting. It isn’t often that I get this much attention prior to publishing.
2 thoughts on “World AIDS Day, 2019”
I PRAY TO MY GOD TO PROTECT US FROM AIDS AND ANY DISEASE
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