Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It is World AIDS Day

When I was old enough to have a sex ed class in school, more than anything else there was a focus on safe sex. It was the tail end of the insane fear of AIDS the swept the country in the 1980s. It was the early 90s and there was at least some information. The focus was less on fear and more on being educated about the transmission of HIV. Personally I made sure I understood this, I am not sure everyone did, but I made it a point to avoid "risky" behavior. Likely because of the amount of illness I had already seen in my life time. Oddly for a teenager Paul felt the same way I did just with different motivation. By the time each of us graduated high school, in the US the AIDS epidemic was started dwindle, with education and treatments. Don't get me wrong I know people still suffer here in the US. I know that a HIV+ status can still be a stigma. Great strides have been made in treatment, most importantly in my opinion a HIV+ mom can now deliver an HIV- child.

That is here though in the US. I am remembering today my friends in Uganda that regularly have to take the kids they care for in for HIV testing. Funds that could be going towards food or medicine or education has to be put toward HIV testing. This is essential in many parts of Africa because of the absolute crisis of AIDS there. The history is long but can be summed up in a few sentences. There is less access to medicine and testing. There is less education. There are social stigmas related to sex and protected sex. There are women being raped by their husbands, soldiers and neighbors. Sometimes people don't know their status. Children are born HIV+. Children are orphaned by the deaths of their HIV+ parents and family members who couldn't get treatment, usually because of financial reasons. The spread of AIDS is slowing but there are great strides to be taken still.

There are many reputable organizations out there fighting to end AIDS everyday. I suggest in honor of World AIDS day, in addition to praying for those who suffer, that you take a few minutes and educate yourself about any part of why today is important. Also if you don't know your HIV status, go get tested. It's free at local health departments and it could save your life and others.

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