Because HIV is still here and it could affect any of us. It is not restricted to the images we may be think of with from the news relating it activities such as injecting drug users or images of poverty-stricken people in Africa. In the 30 years since the first confirmed case, HIV/AIDS has affected – and continues to affect – people from all walks of life.
In Australia there are about 20,000 people living with HIV, in fact each week 20 Australian’s are told the news that they have HIV. As the video below shows they could be your sister, friend, colleague…
The video really sums up why World AIDS Day (Thursday 1 December 2011) is so important. In Australia, World AIDS Day is about raising awareness about HIV/AIDS issues, including the need to support and not discriminate against people living with HIV/AIDS.
(If youâ€™re unsure of the difference between HIV and AIDS or want to know more about HIV/AIDS, head over to our HIV factsheet and videos.)
Weâ€™ve all heard about HIV/AIDS, but few of us talk about it openly. For example, did you know that HIV canâ€™t be spread by kissing, hugging, shaking hands, sharing cups, toilet seats or swimming pools?
When HIV/AIDS was first discovered in the eighties, people with the illness were shunned by others, treated differently to their peers or even fired from their jobs. To some extent, this stigma still exists today – but we can change that.
Talking about HIV/AIDS is one of the best ways to reduce the stigma that surrounds the disease, so why not use World AIDS Day as a chance to start a conversation about HIV/AIDS with friends, family or in your community?
World AIDS Day is a great opportunity to make sure that youâ€™re minimising your risk of getting HIV or another sexually transmitted infection (STI).
In Australia, the most common causes of HIV infection are through having sex without a condom or sharing injecting equipment. HIV can also be transmitted through oral or anal sex.
Reduce your chances of getting HIV by always using condoms or dams during sex, as well as over sex toys, and always clean sex toys between partners. Never share injecting equipment, and make sure that piercings and tattoos are done with new disposable needles that have been correctly sterilised. Check out our HIV factsheet for more tips.
What can you do?
Buy a red ribbon to support World AIDS Day and use it to start conversations about HIV/AIDS.
If youâ€™d like to do more, visit YEAH, an Australian youth health organisation that encourages young people to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and other sexual health related issues in their local communities.Â From there, you can apply to become an Agent of YEAH. Agents of YEAH are trained as peer educators and help run sexual health workshops at schools and events.
HIV/AIDS is a global problem. Understanding it, talking about it and minimising your risk of infection are the first steps towards decreasing stigma and reducing the spread of HIV in our own backyard.
For more information about World AIDS Day, visit http://www.worldaidsday.org.au.
Blog post written by Amy Twitter @AmyBirchall
Thank you to Student Edge for supporting the development of this blog through the provision on a rather fantastic Goodie Bag.
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Artistic Red Ribbon Image By freizeit under Creative Commons Licence