A gay friend of mine told me that in the 1980s he was going to a friend’s funeral every week, sometimes twice a week – all due to AIDS. We must keep AIDS and HIV at the forefront of our consciousness and thus we have World AIDS Day, which is about raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice, and improving education.
Q. Why are bloggers involved?
A. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) www.nida.nih.gov and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of HIV/AIDS Policy’s www.AIDS.gov came to BloggersUnite to ask us to come together to share information about HIV/AIDS.
Q. How does AIDS differ from HIV?
A. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that “Having AIDS means that the virus has weakened the immune system to the point at which the body has a difficult time fighting infection. When someone has one or more specific infections, certain cancers, or a very low number of T cells, he or she is considered to have AIDS.”
Q. What are some basic numbers associated with AIDS/HIV?
A. 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV. 1 million people have HIV in U.S. Of new cases of HIV in the U.S. (either sex), 49% are African-Americans. Men having sex with men (MSM) account for 53% of new cases of HIV. 2.5 million children have AIDS. 25,000 Americans don’t know they are HIV positive. About half of people are infected with HIV before the age of 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35 years old. Around 15% to 20% of adults are infected with HIV in South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Q. What is being done?
A. Here are two of many positive things being done to help with HIV/AIDS:
- AVERT is an international AIDS charity based in the UK. They have projects in areas where AIDS is rapidly spreading such as India and where there are high rates of infection such as sub-Saharan Africa.
- NIDA has developed a Learn the Link: HIV + Drugs campaign to make American youth aware that using drugs and/or drinking can lead to HIV infection. Here is a video they put together to make this important point:
Q. What can you do?
A. Get tested. Urge your partner or friends to get tested. Use a condom. Don’t drink and have unprotected sex. Don’t think you’re invincible and that it won’t happen to you. It just could.