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!