If you’re celebrating a birthday today, “Happy Birthday”. If it’s your anniversary, “Happy Anniversary”. And, if you’re going to be busy decorating or shopping for Christmas, “Happy Holidays”.
Although I think of my friends that are HIV-positive all the time, I really take time to think of the people who I’ve known that have died of AIDS on December 1st, “World AIDS Day”.
“World AIDS Day” was conceived by two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization, James Bunn and Thomas Netter. It was first observed on December 1, 1988.
The purpose is to raise awareness of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) and the spread of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), which attacks the body’s immune system.
Granted you may not know anyone personally that has died of AIDS, but it’s likely that you know someone who is HIV-positive. Across the globe, 34 million people are positive. And, here’s something scarier than that: a majority of all HIV infections are passed on by people who DON’T even know they are HIV-positive!!!
From 1981-2007, more than 25 million people died from AIDS making it the “most destructive pandemic in history”.
Back in the 1980s and for part of the 1990s, developing AIDS was almost a certain death sentence. It still is in many underdeveloped countries and here in the United States for people not on medication. However, with proper medication and a healthier lifestyle, most people who become HIV-positive can still lead a long life and most will likely die from another cause later in life.
Knowing how the virus is spread and debunking myths are two of the most effective ways to beat HIV.
More than 90% of people who are HIV-positive were infected through sexual contact. The following graphic may be too blunt for some, but I won’t apologize for that.
And, just as important to know how you can contract the virus, you should know how it isn’t spread!
Also, you should know that HIV and AIDS are NOT the same thing. A person who is HIV-positive may never develop AIDS.
Each year, since 2007, a 28-foot tall red ribbon is displayed at the White House for World AIDS Day. And, since 1995, every U.S. president has read a proclamation. Here is the link for this year’s proclamation from President Barack Obama: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/11/29/presidential-proclamation-world-aids-day-2012
The road to educating the public about HIV and AIDS has been a long and deadly one. For much of the 1980s into the 1990s, AIDS was incorrectly known as a “gay disease” or “gay cancer”. And, although AIDS was first recognized and became public in the summer of 1981, it took President Reagan years to even mention it to Americans. I blogged about this back in July. Here is the link to that story:
On this day of compassion for those living with HIV or AIDS, there is another reason to be solemn in a non-related story. Today would have been Matthew Shepard’s 36th birthday.
My October 7, 2012 blog about Matthew’s tragic death: https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/a-sad-senseless-way-to-die/