Playing a Part on World AIDS Day

By Lydia Ziegler (she/her), 16 years old, editor

December 1, 2023

Each year on December 1, we recognize World AIDS Day to commemorate the lives lost to AIDS, as well as to mark the progress that has been made. For example, there are now medications available that help 1.) prevent the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and 2.) manage life with HIV, the virus that can develop into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

In 2023 it will be 35 years since the first World AIDS Day. This year’s national theme is “World AIDS Day 35: Remember and Commit”, urging us to think about the past and dedicate ourselves to the future.

There is much work to do and we can all contribute. Community organizations, researchers, policymakers, and even teens like you and me can help by continuing to talk about HIV prevention and treatment. We need to ensure that this public health issue remains a top priority.

Below are some updates and important information about the current situation.

HIV/AIDS today

It has been more than 40 years since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first five cases of what became known as AIDS. By the end of 2022, Approximately 39 million people worldwide were living with HIV.according to the World Health Organization.

This shows the importance of having a global commitment to stop new HIV infections and ensure that all people with HIV, regardless of their ability to pay or where they live, have access to appropriate treatment.

Tests and treatment

About 86 percent of people with HIV worldwide have been tested and know their HIV status.. Testing is an essential step in accessing available medical treatments that help people with HIV stay healthy.

While there is no cure for HIV, there is a medication called antiretroviral therapy (ART) that reduces the chances of people living with HIV developing complications. ART can also reduce the amount of virus in the blood (also called viral load) to the point where it is undetectable. Undetectable means that a person’s viral load is so low that the virus cannot be transmitted to another person. This is known as undetectable = untransmittable (U = U).

Prevention

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a medication that people at risk for HIV can take to prevent getting HIV through sex or drug use (through injection). PrEP is for HIV-negative people and is very effective in preventing HIV when taken as directed.

Post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, may be used if someone has been exposed to HIV. It is for emergency use and must be taken within 72 hours (three days) of exposure.

For a directory on how to find resources like testing, PrEP, and PEP, check out this link.

More people need access

It is clear that scientists and researchers have already made important progress to help treat people living with HIV and reduce the spread of the virus. But even with all the progress, not everyone has insurance coverage, can afford medications, or access things like testing and care. Resources to help people pay for medications, clinic visits, and tests must receive continued funding.

Unfortunately, many people around the world do not have access to resources.

You can lead

To make a world without HIV/AIDS a reality, continue this important debate on World AIDS Day and throughout the year. The continued stigma around HIV/AIDS often creates barriers to open communication, whether between family members, patients and healthcare providers, or partners in intimate relationships.

He 35 Remember and Commit Campaign encourages each of us to make a difference. And you can consult global information. hereto see what communities around the world are doing to help those in need.

Educate yourself about how HIV is transmitted and encourage discussion about safe sex in your friend groups and intimate relationships.

Honor those who have died from AIDS by wearing a red ribbon and supporting any local events for World AIDS Day.

Share information about global and community events, videos or social media that will help educate and commemorate the important HIV/AIDS awareness movement.

Together we can continue to progress.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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