AIDS Free Generation
There has been a lot of talk recently about how we can create an HIV/AIDS free generation. Many of us bloggers, activist, and health care providers would like to see this happen and I believe it can be achieved, but it is going to take a lot of hard work on everyone’s part to make this dream a reality.
In a report released by unaids.org: “Globally, the number of new HIV infections continues to fall. There were 2.3 million new HIV infections in 2012. This is the lowest number of annual new infections since the mid-to-late 1990’s.”
With today’s new Antiretroviral Drug Treatments, it is making it easier for for a person living with HIV/AIDS to live a normal, long, and healthy life as long as they take their medication and take care of themselves. But that alone is not going to be enough to end the AIDS Epidemic. For many they do not even know they are infected with the HIV Virus which means they are going untreated and passing on the virus to new sexual partners.
A major set back that we are facing is the stigmas that surrounds getting tested for HIV. Many people are afraid of others finding out or what others might think, so they go untested and do not know what their status is. Not knowing one’s own status not only puts themselves at risk, but it also puts every sexual partner that they come into contact with at risk as well.
As a community we need to help people become more aware of HIV testing. Many cities offer free clinics where you can go and get tested anonymously. Through knowledge comes power, and knowing your own HIV status gives you the power to help end HIV. This link provides a locator that can help you find a HIV/STI Testing Facility near you: Aids.gov
There is a new push targeted to HIV Negative men who have sex with men called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) in which a fixed dose of Truvada® is prescribed to be taken once a day to help reduce the risk of HIV exposure. It should be noted that this is not a 100% guarantee that if you are exposed to HIV that you will not contract the virus but it greatly reduces the risk if taken properly. Also PrEP should still be taken in combination with safer sexual practices such as with the use of condoms. Never assume that just because your partner tells you that they are negative that they really are, always make sure to protect yourself. If you would like to read up more of PrEP, here is an open letter created by Josh Robbins from imstilljosh.com which explains a good bit more about PrEP and how it works. You will also notice a list of members of the HIV Community who have signed and endorsed this letter.
Lastly, one of the largest factors that we are facing in the fight to create an HIV/AIDS Free Generation is education, or lack there of. Many of the youth today such as myself do not really remember the AIDS Epidemic of the 1980’s and how the world was torn apart because of it. To us it was something of the past, something that it could never happen to us (that was my mentality about it anyways). We need to step up our outreach in schools and in the community, get the up and coming generation to take a stance that HIV will cease to be.
Please get yourself tested, know your status!