The Future For Those Living With HIV Has Never Looked As Hopeful As It Does In This Very Moment

The Future For Those Living With HIV Has Never Looked As Hopeful As It Does In This Very Moment

The next few years appear to be promising ones full of purpose towards finally eradicating the infection from the human populace.

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The past few days have seen momentous progress in the worldwide fight against HIV with the 30th anniversary of World AIDS day on December 1st, 2018. Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 1970s, over 70 million people worldwide have been infected with the malady, culminating in approximately 35 million deaths. However, the tally for today's treatment of the disease shows a far more hopeful outcome, with 37 million living despite carrying HIV and 22 million in treatment.

Recent advances in medical science and technology have lead to the proliferation of easily accessible testing procedures, a plethora of treatments including drugs such as Abacavir (a nucleoside analog reverse-transcriptase inhibitor that is utilized in conjunction with other treatments to reduce the spread of HIV throughout the blood), and pre-exposure prophylaxis as preventative measures have become readily available to many vulnerable communities to help stem the tide of infection on an international scale.

The fight against HIV has been fraught with a host of preventative and treatment plans including clinical trials of antiretrovirals (ARVs) introduced in 1985. Since HIV works by utilizing a reverse transcriptase mechanism — in effect, turning its own viral RNA into DNA — in order to integrate itself into a host cell to mass produce its desired product and thereby infect neighboring cells until an entire tissue area and body system becomes affected, reverse transcriptase inhibitors such as antiretrovirals are increasingly essential in their ability to limit HIV's ability to latch onto a host body and bind properly, thereby reducing its potential to spread and develop into full-blown AIDS.

By 1995, these various ARVs were proclaimed as a major breakthrough in the fight against the AIDS epidemic and were celebrated as a deadly combination to the fatal illness at the 11th International AIDS Conference in Vancouver.

Soon after this development, the WHO announced a "three by five" initiative focused on providing high-quality HIV treatment to approximately three million patients in low- and middle-class regions by the year 2005. It was the largest global public health initiative ever launched at the time, and it increased the number of people who were able to receive access to affordable life-saving treatment by 15-fold within a mere three-year period.

Since then, the WHO has announced a "90-90-90" target plan intent on ensuring that by 2020, approximately 90% of all people living with HIV would know of their status, 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV would receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of those who received this therapy would be able to achieve viral suppression and subsequent recession of their symptoms.

While the Global Public Health initiatives of the world, including the World Health Organization of the United Nations, have made astounding progress in their conflict against HIV/AIDS, the next few years appear to be promising ones full of purpose towards finally eradicating the infection from the human populace.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Some Of You Never Lived In A Dorm And It Really Shows

Dorms are weird and so is college, but some of you might not know.

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Such an exciting time, the beginning of the school year when thousands of bright eyed and bushy tailed college freshmen pack up their things, arrive on campus and try to make a glorified cracker box into their new home. If you asked ten different college students about their experience living in the dorms I'm sure you would get ten very different and very interesting answers.

For those of you that never had the pleasure (or not) of living in a dorm, here are just a few of the curiosities it provides.

1. Living With An Absolute Stranger

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I don't know who thought up this practice that is otherwise thought of as dangerous, but I'd like to talk to them. Thankfully my situation didn't turn out too bad. Only one of our roommates was a little sketchy, but only because she was never home and didn't talk, then moved out at semester. Nothing like my friend's roommate who puked in his own bed then left it there for over a month... clearly, that kid was ready for adulthood.

2. The Bathroom Situation

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Most dorms have communal bathrooms and that right there calls for an endless array of gross and awkward situations. Shower flip flops can't even save you from those unidentified objects stuck in the drain and you don't know what's been in that toilet today. Figuring out the delicate choreography of getting in the shower without being seen naked and dodging all the cute boys in the hallway while you run to your room in your robe with your hair in a towel.

3. Interesting People On Your Floor

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You are living in a building for a year with hundreds of people. Eventually one of these individuals will no longer be able to contain their freakish ways and habits to the inside of their room. I'm talking about the kids who run through the lobby in their onesies, water guns in hand, having an argument over their favorite anime characters. Also the guy I met at 11 a.m. on a Wednesday in the elevator who was in only his boxers searching every floor for his clothes, wallet, keys, and dignity.

4. Figuring Out Adult Things Together

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Usually, when I break something and need to fix it I go to my parents, but in the dorms, I only had three roommates who probably did the same so we had to get pretty creative. Is that expiration date real or just a suggestion? Probably whichever roommate loses noes-goes has to man up and test it. Thankfully we have the internet now so problems like that time we accidentally got expo-marker stuck on the AC panel were able to be fixed with just the click of a button.

5. The Unpredictable RAs

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It's pretty much a game of roulette with what kind of RA you'll end up with. Will it be the cool guy who opens the first meeting of the year with the sentence "Listen, guys, I'm not a regular RA, I'm a cool RA. Do what you want, just don't get caught ok?" or will it be the RA that suddenly thinks this is their chance to become the Cop from their childhood dreams. "DID I JUST HEAR LAUGHTER? SIMMER DOWN IN THERE OR I WILL WRITE YOU UP." Unfortunately, I had the latter.

6. The Forever Bond You Share With Anyone Who Ever Lived In Your Dorm

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Any time I am out and mention that I lived in Lewis Hall someone comes running over screaming "LEW CREWWWW" and gives me a high five. Then for the rest of my years on campus proceed to do so every time they see me out. We all went through the same thing inside those walls, we all know the politics, and we just get each other on a level no one else can. I don't make the rules, it's just how it is.

So long story short if you have the opportunity to live in the dorms, definitely do. This list may sound like a list of reasons to scare you off, but I assure you it is the same list that most dorm veterans also get sentimental about. Dorm life is your right of passage as a freshman and you should definitely take it.

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