Tag Archives: busting myths

World AIDS Day

Good morning, my kinky miscreants!

Today, I bring to your attention a very noble day – that of the 1st of December. It is a noble day not just because you get to start eating the chocolates of your Advent calendar, but also because it’s World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, started in … the past … and dedicated to people uniting in spreading the awareness of AIDS and HIV, and to help combat these diseases. In general, to show their support for the cause, people wear a red ribbon – the international symbol of HIV awareness – and some raise money for charities, like the Nation AIDS Trust, through various activities like fundraiser events, a bake sale or do crazy things like bungee jump naked or vote Lib Dem to raise money.

Of course, this isn’t the only thing you can do. Indeed, you can do nothing. If you know all there is to know, and don’t feel like giving money, then you can go about your business. But if you’re not all clued up on the facts, then it presents a marvellous opportunity to learn something new. So if you want to hold off on learning these facts until Thursday, then you can always log off now and then return here, then! If you do, your fact of the day is: Mars is not red, but brown. The landscape is a very dreary brown. It is the particles in the atmosphere that make it look red. Your fact of the day for Wednesday is: I like chocolate. And ‘Samhain’ is pronounced ‘so’wen’ (sorry, but I’ve been pissed off about this fact ever since it was mispronounced on Supernatural).

So what are these facts that I speak of? I turn to the World AIDS Day website:

HIV stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus which attacks the body’s immune system — the body’s defence against diseases.

HIV can be passed on through infected bodily fluids, most commonly via sex without a condom or by sharing infected needles, syringes or other injecting drug equipment.

There are now more people than ever living with HIV in the UK — more than 90,000 — with around a quarter of those unaware they have the virus.

Here are a few more facts about HIV in the UK:

  • Over 90% of people with HIV were infected through sexual contact
  • You can now get tested for HIV using a saliva sample
  • HIV is not passed on through spitting, kissing, biting or sharing utensils
  • Only 1% of babies born to HIV positive mothers have HIV
  • You can get the results of an HIV test in just 15-20 minutes
  • There is no vaccine and no cure for HIV
Put so bluntly it does make for very grim and shocking reading, and while there is no cure for HIV, people are given meds like antiretrovirals, among other things, to keep the amount of HIV in the body at a low level. This stops any weakening of the immune system and allows it to recover from any damage that HIV might have caused already. It can stop people from becoming ill for many years. For further reading, I’d recommend HIVaware. In particular the Common Myths section. It makes for fascinating reading. It busts the myths that only gay men get HIV, and daft things like that. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and HIV are non-discriminatory. Anyone can get them. And you can do so by:
HIV can be passed on through infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids, rectal secretions or breast milk.

The most common ways HIV is passed on are:

  • Sex without a condom (all forms)
  • Sharing infected needles, syringes or other injecting drug equipment
Indeed, 30% of sufferers in the UK are women, and at the end of 2009 over half of those living with HIV worldwide were women. The most common symptoms of early HIV infection, usually occurring around ten days after infection, are fever, rash and severe sore throat all occurring together. This combination of symptoms is unusual in healthy people and indicates the need for a HIV test.  70-90% of people experience symptoms of early HIV infection but some do not experience any. After two-three weeks these symptoms disappear, and someone with HIV may then live for many years without any further symptoms or indicators that they are HIV positive.
However, it isn’t all doom and gloom as you may think. As of 2009, the number of people living with HIV and AIDS (two connected, yet different diseases and viruses) has increased from 8 million to that of 33 million, with over 30 million people having died since the beginning of the epidemic (I perhaps shouldn’t have started this sentence with ‘it isn’t all doom and gloom as you may think) the overall growth of HIV and AIDS has stabilised in recent years – and the annual number of new HIV infections has steadily declined and due to the significant increase in people receiving antiretroviral therapy, the number of AIDS-related deaths has also declined. While, yes, there is still no cure, this decline is indeed great news.
I hope this blog has provided some enlightenment on the matter! 
This is JV – signing off.
PS: Your fact of the day for Friday is: There are 10 million bacteria at the place where you rest your hands at a desk. Mwahahahahaha!
If you have any thoughts on this post, feel free to post a comment, or join the JE to have your say! If you have a topic you think is worth covering, then you can leave a comment here, or on the JE, too. Basically what I’m trying to say is: join the JE!

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