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World AIDS Day: How You Can Make A Difference


World AIDS Day is celebrated annually on December 1st to spread awareness about AIDS, remember those who lost their lives during the AIDS pandemic, and fundraise to end the spread of HIV and AIDS. By spreading awareness about AIDS, we can help end the AIDS pandemic and fight the stigma people with AIDS face.

In this guide, we talk about what AIDS is, the significance of World AIDS Day, and what you can do to help.

  • What is World AIDS Day?
  • When is World AIDS Day?
  • Spreading Awareness About AIDS
  • What You Can Do To Help


What is World AIDS Day?

Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day is an annual event that focuses on raising awareness about AIDS. Although the AIDS pandemic is a prominent part of history, there are still many people unaware of various elements related to AIDS. World AIDS Day puts a spotlight on the disease to ensure there is a greater awareness of its physical and social implications. It is also an opportunity to remember those who died in the AIDS pandemic and enlighten the public about what it is like to live with AIDS.


When is World AIDS Day?

World AIDS Day is held annually on December 1st. On this day, fundraising events are held for the National AIDS Trust, which spreads awareness about AIDS and people living with HIV.

Additionally, people like to wear a red ribbon for World AIDS Day. The use of the red ribbon began in 1991 when artists in New York created the visual symbol to represent compassion for people with HIV and the associated symbolism of love and the heart.


Spreading Awareness About AIDS

With over 105,000 people in the UK living with HIV, it is vital to raise awareness surrounding AIDS. The UK Government has pledged to end the transmission of HIV by 2030, so understanding how HIV is transmitted and how to keep yourself safe are vital for this.

Additionally, the more educated people are about AIDS, the less stigma there will be directed at people living with HIV. Those who test positive for HIV are often discriminated against in the workplace, education, and healthcare. World AIDS Day helps inform people of the facts surrounding AIDS and debunk any harmful misinformation.

Defining HIV and AIDS

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This is where an infection attacks the body’s immune system by targeting white blood cells. This weakens the immune system, making it easier for people with HIV to become ill.

HIV only becomes AIDS if HIV has been left untreated after several years. AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

Symptoms of HIV

Symptoms of HIV are mild in its early stages. Some people have no physical symptoms, whereas others have flu-like symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat

As HIV progresses and further weakens the immune system, other symptoms begin to occur, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Coughs

If left untreated, people with HIV can develop serious illnesses:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Bacterial infections
  • Cancers such as lymphomas

By spotting the signs of HIV, treatment can be administered early to minimise the chance of more severe symptoms and infections in the future. If you are unsure whether your symptoms are related to HIV, you can purchase a test to give yourself peace of mind.

How HIV is Transmitted

HIV is transmitted during the exchange of bodily fluids with an infected person. This includes blood, vaginal secretions, semen, and breast milk. Additionally, HIV can be transmitted to a baby during pregnancy. It is not transmitted via kissing, hugging, or sharing food as is commonly presumed to be the case.

It must be noted that people receiving treatment for HIV in the form of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) cannot transmit HIV to their sexual partners if they have an undetectable viral load. This further emphasises the need for regular testing to ensure you receive treatment as early as possible and prevent further transmission.

Debunking Myths About AIDS

With HIV and AIDS comes a lot of myths due to the uncertainty many people have surrounding the topic. Here, we have debunked some common myths about HIV/AIDS to ensure people understand the facts.

I can get HIV if I’m around someone with HIV.

This is false. HIV cannot be spread unless it is through bodily fluids, including blood, vaginal secretions, semen, and breast milk. This means you cannot be infected with HIV through kissing or hugging, drinking from the same glass, breathing the same air, or touching a door handle. Although HIV can be detected in an infected person’s saliva, the combination of antibodies and enzymes found in saliva prevents it from infecting others.

Those with HIV do not live a long life.

Before medical advancements, this was commonly the case. Previously, there were no treatments available, meaning the death rate of AIDS was high. However, in the present day, there are treatments that are readily available to people meaning an HIV diagnosis is no longer a death sentence.

Additionally, there are also testing kits available meaning if you can get a diagnosis and start treatment early, you will possibly not develop AIDS.

I can’t spread HIV during sex if I’m on medication.

This is not entirely true. If you are on medication and you have an undetectable viral load, then yes, there is very little to no chance of transmission. However, if you are on medication, but HIV is still detected in your blood, then you can still transmit HIV to others.

I’ve got HIV, so I can’t have children.

If you’re a man or a woman, you can still safely have a baby. Doctors can provide you with something to prevent you from passing HIV to your partner. Additionally, if you are pregnant, medication can also protect you and your baby from HIV.

Women can’t get HIV.

Anyone can get HIV, including women. If you are sexually active with men, you can contract HIV from an infected male. Additionally, if you are a woman who is sexually active with women, you also run the risk of contracting HIV. However, the risk is lower. It is essential to practice safe sex to lower your chances of getting HIV in any circumstance.

By understanding the fact from fiction when it comes to AIDS, the stigma surrounding people living with HIV can be reduced.


What You Can Do To Help

Spreading awareness is the goal of World AIDS Day, so how can you do your part?

  1. Take a test – you can easily order a test online
  2. Educate yourself further about HIV and AIDS
  3. Get involved in the World AIDS Day campaigns each year
  4. Wear a red ribbon to show your support
  5. Donate to National AIDS Trust to help those living with HIV


Take Ownership of Your Health on World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is a reminder to take control of your health. By educating yourself about HIV and AIDS and promoting early detection, we can help the UK Government in ending HIV transmission by 2030. At Home Health, we can help you take a positive step towards your health by providing you with home testing kits and advice.


World AIDS Day FAQs

What does AIDS stand for?

AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. This is a more developed stage of HIV, which can be caused when HIV is left untreated for a long time, usually over a number of years.

Is HIV and AIDS the same thing?

Yes and no. HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. If left untreated, HIV can develop into AIDS, as AIDS is a late stage of HIV. This means HIV can become AIDS, but they are not the same thing.

Is there a cure for AIDS?

There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS, but there is medication available that ensures you are still able to live a long life if you test positive for HIV. These advancements in medicine mean people who contract HIV are still able to enjoy their lives as long as they take their medication.

How many people died of AIDS?

Since the start of the AIDS epidemic, 40.4 million people have died from HIV/AIDS-related illnesses globally. This means World AIDS Day is even more crucial as people need to be educated on how HIV is transmitted in order to minimise transmission in the future.


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