World AIDS Day Strives To End The Outdated Stigma
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Health and Wellness

World AIDS Day Strives To End The Outdated Stigma

#HIVNotRetro

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World AIDS Day Strives To End The Outdated Stigma
Evening Standard

December 1 was World AIDS Day. Sponsored by the National AIDS Trust, this year’s theme was #HIVNotRetro in order to combat the ever present stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS.

As part of their movement, they asked supporters to reminisce the 1980s and 90s by posting photos and throwing parties. This was to show that while “although some retro styles have come back in to fashion some things should be left in the past, including HIV stigma.”

Stigma surrounds HIV and AIDS for many reasons. Destroying it is important for people who are prevented from receiving protection, treatment, and testing because of the negative attitudes surrounding it.

Not enough people receive the knowledge they need during their health education. But it’s never too late to educate yourself, especially on a topic as important as this. Currently, 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV.

However, in order to destroy something, you have to know why it exists in the first place.

Stigma around HIV/AIDS exists for a multitude of reasons. Let’s start with a prevalent one.

Many people still believe that contracting HIV is a death sentence. This is most likely due to the HIV/AIDS crisis that devastated the gay male population in the 1980s.

Or it may be due to the large population of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa who seldom receive substantial treatment. This leads to a higher rate in death caused by AIDS-related illnesses.

In the United States, this is not true. With the introduction of new treatment and education, people living with HIV are able to prevent the virus from turning into AIDS and are living healthy lives.

Another thing that causes the stigmatization is that the majority of people living with HIV contracted it through behaviors that many people disagree with or are taboo. The top five affected populations are men who have sex with other men, intravenous drug users, sex workers, prisoners and trans people.

These groups of people are looked down on for one reason or another. One could argue that that’s just one’s “opinion,” but this has a farther reach than you might think. These prejudices translate to lack of advocacy for treatment, prevention and health services.

While these are the top five groups affected, they are not the only ones. Inaccurate information about transmission and misconceptions about who can be affected increase personal risk.

A misconception about HIV is that can only be transmitted through sex. Not only is this untrue, but it also contributes to the taboo nature of the illness. In many cultures, including the majority in the United States, sex is usually avoided, from casual conversation to formal settings, such as classrooms.

This is a tougher one to tackle. The multitude of stigmas that surround sex have to be destroyed first in order to have open and effective discussions about it and how to protect yourself.

Abstinence-only education has been proven to have little to no impact on those who receive it, in terms of attitudes towards and precautions taken during sexual activity. We have to address sex as part of our culture and work towards a more accessible, destigmatized way of discussing it.

Although Worlds AIDS Day has passed, those living with HIV/AIDS don’t get to wake up the next morning miraculously cured. As education and awareness, treatment, prevention and health services can hopefully one day be available for all – judgment free.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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