World AIDS Day: Rock The Ribbon
December 1 is World AIDS Day. This year we’re asking you to #RockTheRibbon with our community and be an HIV ally. www.worldaidsday.org/campaign/
Why does #RockThe Ribbon matter to the O4U community?
A survey released in November 2019 found that more than a quarter (28 percent) of HIV-negative millennials have avoided hugging, talking to or being friends with someone with the virus. Thirty percent said they’d prefer not to interact socially at all with people who have HIV. When asked about awareness of HIV, 41% HIV-negative Generation Z respondents said they were either not at all or only somewhat informed about the virus, compared with 23% of HIV-negative millennials.
Respondents were also questioned about sexual health behaviors. According to the survey results, 67% of HIV-negative participants reported HIV was more concerning than other sexually transmitted infections. However, 54% of participants did not report using condoms or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
This demonstrates a startling point, as 75% of millennial respondents and 60% of Generation Z participants living with HIV reported contracting HIV through sex without condoms or PrEP.
How ironic to miss out on a kiss or a hug with a person who can’t give you HIV with a kiss or a hug, but have sex with someone else without a condom or not using PrEP or PEP. Ignorance and stigma are the killers here.
Anyone can contract HIV. It is found in blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), vaginal fluid, rectal fluid, and breast milk. HIV spreads when one of these fluids from a person who has untreated HIV enters the body of a person who does not. This can happen are through:
* Anal, oral, or vaginal sex
* Needles, syringes, or other injection equipment
* Pregnancy or childbirth.
It’s half a century since the first known death from AIDS or the complications of HIV. According to the WHO, there are an estimated 38 million people globally who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS related illnesses, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition.
AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by more than 56 percent since the peak in 2004 due to education, testing and treatments.
We now have Antiretrovirals, PrEP and PEP, yet many people remain ignorant about the ways in which HIV is transmitted. Stigma against HIV-positive people persists, especially among younger Americans.
So, use your head and your heart. Use condoms, access PrEP and PEP, support worldwide access to retrovirals for everyone and be generous with your hugs. You have nothing to fear.
Sister of Patrick Leo Herndon who died of AIDS in 1988
Mom of Joshua Love who lives with undetectable HIV and one of the best huggers I know