In the early 1980s, otherwise healthy men began contracting a rare lung infection, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, and in some cases, Kaposi’s sarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer. The medical community was dumbfounded as cases of immune deficiency spread. Soon, acquired immune deficiency syndrome – AIDS –reached epidemic proportions. And with it, fear, uncertainty, ignorance, and intolerance.
We have come a long way since then. World AIDS Day is dedicated to continuing the fight to advance research, raise awareness, honor those who have died, and support those who live with HIV or AIDS. This December 1, we can all join in the fight.
Why We Still Need To Build Awareness
In 1988, the World Health Organization (WHO) proclaimed December 1 as World AIDS Day. Nearly thirty years later, the need for awareness is just as pressing. In the US, more than 1.1 million people live with HIV. One in seven of these individuals don’t know it.
Taking steps to protect yourself and your partner(s) is critical. The first step is to have an HIV test. The CDC recommends everyone age 13 – 64 be tested at least once; you can have testing done at your regular doctor’s office.
If you feel uncomfortable with that, you can find a clinic that offers free, confidential testing with the CDC’s GetTested tool. Don’t let embarrassment keep you from getting this important health test. Also check out the CDC’s HIV Risk Reduction Tool, which provides essential information.
What do you do if you test positive? Today, there are more effective treatments to help people with HIV live more fully and healthily. Those who test positive should start antiretroviral therapy (ART) immediately. If you test negative:
This December 1, join us in raising awareness of HIV/AIDS, and compassion for those affected.