HIV and Aids are among the most stigmatised conditions around. There continues to be a lot of false and misleading information out there, which leads to further discrimination of those of us living with the illness.
For World Aids Day 2017, there is a lot of work being done to eradicate ignorance surrounding the conditions and dispel some myths that are still widely accepted as fact.
As you can see above, the outcome for people diagnosed with HIV has come a long way and is no longer considered a death sentence as it was 20 years ago. With proper treatment, most people living with the condition in the UK have a near-normal life expectancy and may never go on to develop AIDS. Medical advances now mean that even if someone with HIV does develop AIDS, it can often be reversed with effective treatment so that they go back to having lower levels of the virus in their bodies. However HIV is still a condition that has to be managed, with medication having to be taken daily for the rest of a person’s life. This means that education surrounding safe sex and the risks involved in sharing needles needs to be increased to help prevent HIV and AIDS from spreading.
Did you know?
- only 0.3% people diagnosed with HIV go on to develop AIDS (and can then recover and go back to having HIV)
- 85% people diagnosed with HIV are not infectious
There is now emergency treatment that exists for HIV, Post Exposure Prophylaxis. This is a month-long course of medication (similar to those given to people diagnosed with the condition), which must be started as soon as possible (no longer than 72 hours) after suspected exposure to the virus. The NHS has given guidance that this should only be used as an option if there has been high risk of exposure, for example where a sexual partner is known to be HIV positive. Although this is a great advance in medical treatment it is not always effective, and prevention from exposure (e.g. engaging in safe sex and being sure of your sexual partner’s history) is a much better form of preventing the disease.
There are many ways you can become involve d in helping to spread awareness of HIV and show your support. You can buy a red ribbon here, get creative with baking to dispel the four myths World Aids Day organisers are trying to combat this year with the slogan #IcingNotIgnorance, or why not combine HIV awareness with promoting your own wellbeing and make this delicious non-alcoholic Safe Sex on the Beach Mocktail?
- 90ml Cranberry Juice
- 90ml Grapefruit Juice
- 60ml Peach Juice
- Maraschino Cherries to Garnish (optional)
You could even try adding some Grenadine to enhance the red colour for World Aids Day
Recent HIV infection results in severe, flu-like symptoms, sore throat, fever, a rash on the chest, fatigue, nausea and diarrhoea. However, the second stage of HIV usually does not present with any symptoms, so it is important to get tested regularly.
If you are worried about HIV, or you think you may have been exposed to the virus, you don’t have to face it alone. If you need emergency treatment following exposure to the virus (within 72 hours), this is available at GUM clinics and your nearest A&E department (click here to find your nearest sexual health services). You can also find out more about HIV awareness and treatment in the UK by clicking on the respective words.