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Honor World AIDS Day by taking steps to prevent HIV and AIDS

  • Category: Wellness
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Honor World AIDS Day by taking steps to prevent HIV and AIDS

With its introduction on Dec. 1, 1988, World AIDS Day became the first global public health awareness day endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). The day is designed to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS while honoring the 40 million people who have died of AIDS-related illnesses.

What can you do to commemorate the occasion? Honor those we’ve lost by doing everything you can to prevent the spread of HIV now.

What is World AIDS Day?

World AIDS Day was created in the summer of 1987 by James Bunn and Thomas Netter, public information officers for the WHO Global Programme on AIDS. The first observance in 1988 came four years after the virus was identified. World AIDS Day was established with three goals in mind—to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and how to prevent them, to honor the lives of those who were lost to AIDS-related illnesses, and to show support for those living with HIV or AIDS.

While the mission of World AIDS Day hasn’t changed since 1988, the circumstances have. Today much more is known about both HIV and AIDS, and the focus has shifted to HIV prevention, emphasizing testing for HIV infections.

Take steps to prevent the spread of HIV

On World AIDS Day, you can honor the lives of those lost and raise awareness about HIV and AIDS by wearing a red ribbon, the symbol for HIV awareness. But you can also reduce the spread of HIV, which may be the most meaningful way to memorialize those who lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses.

HIV prevention starts with understanding how HIV is spread. HIV is transmitted through exposure to certain bodily fluids, including blood, semen, pre-seminal fluids, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids and breast milk. While infection is commonly tied to sexual intercourse, the virus can also be spread through a contaminated needle or syringe during injection drug use. Protect your health with these precautions:

  • Practice safe sex. Use latex condoms during sex, including vaginal, anal and oral intercourse. Limit your number of sexual partners to minimize the risk and get tested when entering a new sexual relationship.
  • Don’t use injectable drugs. If you do, use a new, sterile needle or syringe, and don’t share them with others.
  • Get tested. Being tested is the only way to know whether you have HIV. Regular STD testing is important and can be performed as part of a routine checkup with your medical provider.
  • Consider PrEP. Talk with your medical provider about your risk of developing HIV. If you’re at high risk, you may benefit from taking PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis. This medication is taken daily to help prevent infection.
  • Know what to do if you’re exposed. If you are exposed to HIV through sex or using a shared needle, post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, may be prescribed. This medication must be started within 72 hours of exposure to be effective.
  • Talk with your partner. If your partner has tested positive for HIV, they may benefit from antiretroviral therapy, also called ART. This combination of medications lowers the amount of HIV in the body, known as the “viral load.” When the viral load is low, HIV is undetectable—and unable to be transmitted to others through sex.

Do your part! Commemorate World AIDS Day by doing all you can to slow the spread of HIV.

Today, come out to our World AIDS Day Awareness event presented by HOP Clinic from 11:30 am — 1:30 pm at University Medical Center’s Atrium.

Looking to take other steps to protect your overall health? This checklist is a good place to begin!