Tuesday, December 1, 2015
World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day: Red Ribbon Campaign
Show others that you are aware and that you care.
The Red Ribbon Campaign is supported by the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the CDC and a host of international and national public health initiatives to raise awareness of the global AIDS pandemic. A red awareness ribbon is worn, especially on this day, as a visible reminder that we are ALL living with HIV/AIDS. Not all of us are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS; but HIV affects us all.
It is important that we all remember that AIDS touches all of our lives. The above nude protest took place in the office of then U. S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner when the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress was attempting to cut HIV/AIDS spending in the U. S. budget. The legislators were using this as a means of asserting itself against President Barack Obama. Often, this disease is politicized due to the stereotyping of it being a "gay plague." Of course, we all know that diseases don't discriminate, unlike politicians.
AIDS is a debilitating syndrome (if untreated, potentially fatal) that is caused by the virus, HIV. Since the identification of the virus in 1981, medicine has identified the opportunities for the transmission of HIV. The virus may be spread through contact with the following body fluids: blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk. Sharing needles and syringes increases the risk for contracting HIV. A pregnant woman, unaware of her HIV status, may unknowingly transmit the virus to her unborn child.
Research and public health authorities strongly advocate the use of a new latex condom for the reduction of risk of HIV transmission during sexual activity. Medical science and pharmaceutical researchers have made progress over the past thirty-plus years in developing effective medications to prolong life and increase the quality of life of those persons living with HIV. However, to date there is no vaccine or known cure for HIV/AIDS.
Only a physician can diagnose HIV. An infected person may look and feel healthy for a long time before developing any of the symptoms of living with HIV.
HIV can be prevented. The most effective method of stopping the spread of HIV is through prevention education: empowering individuals on ways they are able to protect themselves and others from becoming infected with the virus that causes AIDS. Knowledge is power and by understanding exactly how HIV is transmitted enables us all to effectively use precautions and remain healthy.
In 2014, there was an awareness campaign that took social media by storm. The theme was "we are all clean" and media users were encouraged to take a selfie showering and post to sites promoting the fact that HIV is a serious concern for all of us. The above graphic is one of hundreds of thousands used to promote HIV education and prevention. The purpose of the grassroots initiative was to help eradicate remaining stigmas against persons living with HIV as well as knowledge on preventing HIV infections.
The 2015 theme for World AIDS Day is getting to zero. This reflects the goal of "zero" new infections of the virus that causes AIDS. A tool towards achieving this goal is for each one (person) to reach out into our broader community and teach someone as to how they can protect themselves and others from becoming infected with HIV. HIV/AIDS prevention education is truly a communal responsibility and effort in order to ensure that a healthy and disease-free future for us all.
The "each one-reach one-teach one" theme was popular in the late 1980's and early 1990's. It should be a resurrected as the message remains relevant today.
In combating the myths and stigmas surrounding HIV/AIDS, one of the most important messages we need to remember to share with family and friends is: It's not who we are, but what we do, that puts us at risk for HIV.
To determine one's HIV-status, a test is the only measure. Only a physician may diagnose HIV or AIDS. There are tests that can be self-administered however the results must be determined by a health practitioner. Confidential HIV testing in the United States is available to all residents. Contact your local Health Department for a location convenient to you.
Internationally acclaimed artist, Keith Haring, created artwork that was often used in HIV/AIDS-awareness campaigns. Some of his graphics were used in promoting World AIDS Day (see image below). This particular example was prominent in the protests conducted by ACT-UP, a movement from the late 1980's and early 1990's of AIDS-activists leading the fight for funding and research on HIV-related issues. Keith Haring died of complications associated with AIDS.
For additional information on HIV/AIDS and World AIDS Day, please click one or all of the links below:
Pictured above, a couple stand bare draped only in a red awareness ribbon to demonstrate the vulnerability of all of humanity against HIV infection.
Peace! Get naked. Enjoy!
Bare With Pride