World AIDS Day! Know the facts, protect yourself.

World AIDS Day! Know the facts, protect yourself.

Right now, there are approximately 1.2 million people in America living with HIV/AIDS. Of that 1.2 million, almost half are gay men. Though HIV/AIDS awareness should be known by all, it is not. Unfortunately, the number of newly infected individuals has virtually remained steady. Even sadder, approximately 16,000 Americans will die of HIV or AIDS this year alone.

It is for all those reasons, that we still have World AIDS Day, which is today, December 1, 2011.

With the World entering its' fourth decade of the disease, it is believed that most people have probably known someone who is HIV/AIDS positive. However, as a gay men, I have known more than my share of people with HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately, even with all the awareness out there, 53% of new infections are still gay men.

Even with all the the new testing techniques and the availability of safe sex aids, gay men have consistently seen an increase in the number of infections since the early 1990's. *according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC)

It is for that reason, that when Kyle and I decided to be a couple in a monogamous relationship, we went and got tested. We had all the blood work done so that we could be tested for everything. Of course, the most nerve wrecking was the HIV/AIDS test. As an adult, sexual male, safety was  normally not my first thought when put in a sexual position.

However, after waiting on that test result, I gained a new respect for playing safe. I was so scared and frightened. What if it had come back positive? What if Kyle had? What would we have done? Would we have had the money and insurance available for treatment? How would friends and family react?

Fortunately, we both came back negative. We did the wait, and then we had to get retested. That is how it works. You cannot just go once and be done.

Even if you are scared, you want to know your status. You want to catch an infection as early as possible. Almost 1 out of every 3 people who test positive wait too long to be tested. Once they do finally get tested, the disease is to far along for the patient to receive full treatment. This can really hurt them when it comes to fighting the virus.

So on this World AIDS Day, step out of your comfort zone. The CDC reports that half of Americans have never been tested! Do not be one of them. Get tested, find out your status, and go from there.

If you test positive, seek treatment.

If you test negative, learn to play safe. Every nine and a half minutes, a new infection occurs. Do not let it be you.

Now, with the preaching part aside. Do not be stupid when it comes to interacting with people who have HIV/AIDS. Get educated.

Know that you cannot get HIV/AIDS from kissing, holding hands, drinking after one another, sharing clothes, or anything else where bodily floods are not exchanged. So, do not be afraid of people who are positive. Stupidity does not help the cause.

It is also very important to note that there is not yet a cure for HIV/AIDS.

On a weird note, according to the CDC there are rumors going around that having sex with a virgin can cure you of HIV/AIDS. They report that this is wrong. Are people seriously that stupid? Of course, that is probably the same people that believe that douching and bathing can cure you of the virus. Neither is true.

If you need more information on HIV/AIDS, visit AIDS.gov. Get the facts. Know your status. Be Smart!

Comments

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  • This is such an important message.

    I am old enough to remember a time before HIV/AIDS, and to recall the insane viciousness towards people who contracted it. Things are a little better now, but not much.

    One of my best friends from college was diagnosed with HIV in '89. At the time it was considered a death sentence; he was told he would only live at best another 7 years. He was devastated. He thought he would be alone for what time he had left because nobody would want to be with him. The doctors were wrong- he's still alive. And he's in a happy, committed relationship. The point is that there's hope.

    I once asked my doctor to test me while he was taking a blood sample for another reason. He informed me that I didn't need one and I should save my $50! He had rarely seen me before, had no idea about my sexual history, but because this is a small town he assumed that I lived wholesomely and couldn't possibly have been exposed!

    I got a new doctor.

    It hurts me when I see, hear, or read about the way people with HIV/AIDS are treated by others to this day. I've heard about the virgin thing. That actually started in Africa where AIDS runs rampant. Men will rape little girls because they can be sure they are virgins, and want to get rid of their AIDS. Many years ago now our country appealed to the president of one of the African countries, asking that we be allowed to help with our knowledge and medicine. The president turned us down, saying that we don't know any more about AIDS than they do (we hadn't cured it yet), so raping virgins might well be the answer! It breaks my heart and enrages me. The fact that this insane myth is making its way here blows my mind.

    Alright, this is too long already. I'll just agree with you and say that we should be aware, be responsible, and be compassionate, but don't be afraid of those who have HIV/AIDS.

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