As everyone is likely aware thanks to impressive social media, today is World AIDS Day. HIV/AIDS has been of particular interest for me, especially in the developing world, and I am grateful that World AIDS Day can help bring awareness to this issue. While 2/3 of those infected with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV is certainly something that can affect all of us, regardless of where we live, the color of our skin or our socio-economic status.
Check out some of the startling statistics on Avert’s website.
There are millions of individuals infected in sub-Saharan Africa, including around two million children. Further, millions of children have been left orphaned by the epidemic in Southern Africa, some even acting as heads of households at the age of ten. Due to heavy stigmatization and discrimination, HIV is an issue that is often not discussed and people who are infected can be alienated and left without the necessary support system. While the statistics are particularly stunning in sub-Saharan Africa (and in parts of Asia), the US is certainly not immune to the crisis. The District of Columbia has an HIV rate hovering around 3%.
Let’s continue to be safe, generate discussion on this topic and distribute accurate information. There are many resources available for those that are already positive. For those that aren’t, it’s up to us to be informed, be safe and to understand the dynamics of HIV/AIDS. While it’s easy to be overly cautious (read: afraid) of things that we don’t fully understand, stigmatizing those who are HIV+ helps no one. Let’s work to create a society that’s open to this discussion and get this conversation going!
Interested in learning about an HIV Vaccine? Click here for more.