AIDS, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, does not discriminate against gender, race, or age. HIV, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is the virus that causes AIDS. A medical diagnosis of HIV positive means that the virus is present in the body. How the virus progresses depends on medical treatment, use of prescription drugs and the general health of the one affected. HIV attacks one’s immune system so the body cannot fight against infections or diseases. When HIV progresses to a very compromised immune system, it is considered AIDS. HIV and AIDS have caused pandemic-proportionate loss of life and continue to destroy. You can help stop the progress and spread of AIDS and HIV by educating yourself, preventing the spreading, and contributing to the cure. HIV/AIDS awareness organizations exist to present the facts of AIDS, prevention tips and promote awareness days and months. A simple way to symbolize your dedication to the AIDS/HIV cause is by wearing a red, AIDS awareness ribbon.
National AIDS Day
In the United States, National AIDS Awareness Days are designated to different groups of people. For example, the National Women and Girls AIDS/HIV Awareness Day is March 10th. The National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is February 7th. The National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is May 19th. The National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day is September 18th. The National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is March 20th. The National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is September 27th. The goal of all these national remembrance days are to educate others, take action against the disease and spread the facts.
Other reasons exist for having an AIDS awareness day. These include recognizing those who are fighting, donating and researching an HIV vaccine. The National HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is May 18th.
An AIDS awareness day also exists to offer testing for those who are concerned. The National HIV Testing Day is June 27th.
When Is AIDS Awareness Month?
National AIDS Awareness Month is held in July in the United States. In 2012, AIDS Awareness Month coincided with the International AIDS Conference. This conference is another attempt to bring awareness to those who have AIDS or are HIV positive. It also addresses ways to spread information about AIDS to those who are unaware, so the spreading of this deadly disease can stop. The International AIDS Conference labels the AIDS epidemic as a domestic crisis and seeks to end discrimination of those affected with HIV and AIDS by encouraging a compassionate response.
When Is World AIDS Day?
In an effort to raise awareness for AIDS and HIV, the World AIDS Day, celebrated on December 1 each year, began in 1988 as the first worldwide health day. World AIDS awareness Day remembers those who are suffering from AIDS and HIV, those that have lost their lives to this disease and supports those who are searching for a cure. By remembering the disease yearly, AIDS awareness increases and those who are passionate about stopping the destruction of AIDS continue to bring the news to others.
World AIDS Day 2013 and World AIDS Day 2014 follow a “Getting to Zero” theme that began in 2011. The United Nations supports the “Getting to Zero” campaign that surrounds the World AIDS Day. The goal is to acquire Zero New HIV Infections, reduce bullying to Zero Discrimination and report Zero AIDS Related Deaths.
World AIDS Day Campaign Africa Director, Linda Mafu suggests that organizations pick one of the three themes to focus on. Events are scheduled on December 1 such as information marches, protests, walks and other campaigns to raise awareness for AIDS. The Zero Discrimination theme addresses the discrimination and bullying that surround those who are affected with AIDS and definitely needs to be addressed.
HIV and AIDS are life-threatening illnesses, yet those suffering from them are often the target of bullying and discrimination. HIV and AIDS sufferers can be excluded from renting apartments, purchasing homes or from employment. Even though these exclusions are illegal, discrimination still occurs.
Youth may be bullied if or when it is revealed that they are HIV positive. Bullies may view HIV and AIDS as a weakness or as something that could have been prevented. Often, the spread of HIV and AIDS is preventable through safe sex precautions and non-sharing of drug needles. However, one in six people are not aware they are carrying the HIV virus. In the beginning stages, the symptoms of HIV may not be apparent, so one can spread the disease unknowingly.
For youth, their HIV positive diagnosis may be completely out of their control. Infected mothers can pass HIV to their babies through pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Babies are infected often before they take their first breath and should not be bullied or discriminated against for something they have no control over.
It is not correct to blame an infected mother either, as her actions may not be the cause of her disease. Women can be raped or molested by those who are infected. Other reasons with a much reduced percentage are receiving a blood transfusion before 1985 when the chance for receiving HIV-infected blood was higher, or receiving an organ transplant. Although the risks are extremely low, if a person is recently infected with HIV, it may not be caught before the organ is removed for transplantation.
Bullying of those with HIV and AIDS is wrong and needs to be stopped. The Zero Discrimination campaign on World AIDS Day makes a giant step toward spreading the facts and reducing bullying.
The fight is far from over. Support, research, medical treatments and preventive measures are all needed. The AIDS Zero Discrimination campaign also presents the facts about AIDS and HIV since confusion still exists over what the disease is, how the disease is transmitted, how it progresses, treatments and stigmas. These international campaigns raise awareness by educating others. Celebrating and participating in these events are also a way to donate to the cause and, hopefully, benefit finding a cure.
What To Do If Bullied
Bullying takes many forms from verbal and physical threats to cyberbullying through texts, e-mails, social media, spreading rumors, and other web-sites. If you or your child are the victims of bullying in regards to HIV or AIDS:
- Collect your evidence such as text messages, e-mails, web postings and internet photos
- Contact the school system if your child is being bullied by a peer
- Contact your local law enforcement
- Do not respond to any communication from the bully
- If the situation is life-threatening, call the local emergency system immediately
- Block the bully from your cell phone, e-mail and social media
- Contact social media sites to learn their policies on cyberbullying and to report the situation
- Speak with your doctor about addressing the school system with an assembly on HIV and AIDS factual information.
So many misconceptions surround AIDS and an HIV positive diagnosis. These misconceptions contribute to the bullying and discriminatory treatment of those inflicted with the disease.
You can teach yourself and your children the facts surrounding AIDS/HIV as you continue to increase your knowledge. Armed with facts and truths, the mistreatment of those suffering from AIDS will stop.
Learn the facts such as how the disease is spread, including ways it is transmitted unknowingly to children. Avoid spreading myths such as all those infected are homosexual or drug users; this simply is not true.
Talk with your co-workers, friends and family and encourage them to talk with others. The more information you can arm others with, the less of a chance society takes in spreading the disease. The important goal is to reach those who have not heard about AIDS and who continue to practice unsafe acts.
The National AIDS Awareness Days are a time to educate others on:
- AIDS and HIV testing
- Risk factors for AIDS and HIV
- Safe sex practices
- AIDS and HIV disease progression and treatments
Use this time and your knowledge to speak openly with your friends, family and co-workers. The more knowledge you have, the better you can arm yourself against this deadly disease. Plus, one small bit of information that you pass on to a co-worker may prevent them from making a deadly mistake.
Protect yourself against AIDS transmission by:
- Learning the facts regarding HIV and AIDS transmission- this is your best defense.
- Always wearing a condom or have your partner wear a condom regardless of the sexual activity.
- Do not share drug paraphernalia such as needles.
- Avoid putting yourself into compromising or dangerous positions that may lead to sexual promiscuity such as situations where you may be slipped drugs unaware.
- Speak with your doctor about other ways to protect yourself, especially if your partner is HIV positive.
You can support the fight against HIV and AIDS. You can choose to help reduce bullying and discrimination of those affected with the disease. Talk to others in your community to promote compassionate understanding. Share your personal experiences with the disease if you feel comfortable doing this.
On a larger scale, decide to participate in the World AIDS Day, National AIDS Awareness Month or choose one of the National AIDS awareness days. If you choose to support this cause and host an event consider:
- The type of event you’d like to host- a walk, march, health fair, cycle, relay, auction, variety show, etc.
- Your target audience: are you trying to reach adults, teenagers, doctors, females, etc.
- Educators in your area who are willing to contribute by speaking, donating, examining, etc.
- A guest speaker who suffers from AIDS or HIV.
- Contacting the media for support.
- Using flyers, posters and handouts from AIDS organizations that already have logos, information, contacts, etc.
- Tying your event into another that is happening in the city for maximum exposure.
- Reaching out to churches, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.
- Schedule a public meeting with community members to discuss the impact of this disease in your area.
- Speak to your local mayor or other public officials and ask for suggestions on how to support the fight against HIV and AIDS.
- Hold a news conference, issue press releases and develop a media package to promote your event.
- Schedule your event on the newspaper, radio and television calendars for easy viewing.
- Develop a web-site or newsletter dedicated to your event and promote it on all the social media web-sites.
As AIDS and HIV progress, the disease becomes life-threatening. The World AIDS Day and National AIDS Awareness Days seek to remember those who have passed away from this disease. In honor of those consider:
- Providing support to those infected with AIDS or HIV
- Volunteering at an AIDS/HIV organization
- Promoting free AIDS/HIV testing
- Send AIDS/HIV public service announcements to your local newspaper and radio stations
- Wear a red, AIDS Awareness Ribbon
- Promote an AIDS awareness event
- Raise donations for the HIV and AIDS causes
AIDS and HIV affect everyone. Maybe you know someone who has lost their life to this disease, someone who is suffering or others who live in unnecessary fear of it. With proper education, support for those searching for vaccines and cures, and promotion of healthy lifestyle choices, you can make a difference.
Encourage your children to accept and befriend those who are HIV positive, instead of ridiculing or bullying someone who is suffering. Those affected by HIV and AIDS need others to stand up for them and to be treated with respect. It’s always best to follow the golden rule and treat others the way you want to be treated.