World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day and to celebrate this date, I wanted to share with you some interesting information about HIV. Whatever you do, be careful and respectful of yourself and others. Remember the wise words of the Wiccan Rede: An it harm none do what ye will.
AIDS Today
In recent years, the response to the epidemic has been intensified; in the past ten years in low- and middle-income countries there has been a 6-fold increase in spending for HIV and AIDS. The number of people on antiretroviral treatment has increased, the annual number of AIDS deaths has declined, and the global percentage of people infected with HIV has stabilised.
However, recent achievements should not lead to complacent attitudes. In all parts of the world, people living with HIV still face AIDS-related stigma and discrimination, and many people still cannot access sufficient HIV treatment and care. In America and some countries of Western and Central and Eastern Europe, infection rates are rising, indicating that HIV prevention is just as important now as it ever has been.
Prevention efforts that have proved to be effective need to be scaled-up and treatment targets reached. Commitments from national governments right down to the community level need to be intensified and subsequently met, so that one day the world might see an end to the global AIDS epidemic.
- from Avert.org
HIV can affect anybody. Anyone who is sexually active or shares needles is at risk of getting or passing on HIV. However in the UK most people living with HIV are gay or bisexual men and black African men and women. Over 7,000 people are diagnosed with HIV in the UK every year.
Although gay men are most affected in the UK, more heterosexual people than gay men were diagnosed with HIV last year. On average most people diagnosed are in their 30s, but more than one in 10 diagnoses are among young people (aged 16-24); and five per cent of people diagnosed are over 55. There are also over 1,000 children living with HIV in the UK.
- from Worldaidsday.org
HIV Myths
You can tell by looking at someone if they have HIV
Often people with HIV will not appear ill. In fact, you generally cannot tell if someone is living with HIV.
It takes months before you can have a test for finf out if you are infected with HIV
A HIV test, that gives a reliable result, can be taken within a month of possible exposure to the virus.
Only gay men get HIV
Over 30,000 gay men in the UK have HIV but there are also heterosexuals living with HIV in the UK. And a third of people with HIV in the UK are women. Anyone who has sex without a condom or share needles when injecting drugs is at risk of HIV.
I don't need to worry about HIV because there are good treatments available
There is no cure for HIV. Although there are good treatments that mean people can live a long life with HIV, they require taking medication everyday. There can be side-effects. There are also long-term consequences of living with a long-term condition and sadly there is still a lot of stigma and discrimination.
People with HIV can't work
Treatments today mean most people with HIV who are working say it doesn’t affect their working lives. In a recent NAT survey 70% of respondents had taken no HIV-related sick days in the last 12 months. There are currently only a very small number of jobs that people with HIV cannot do (e.g. being a surgeon).
It's very easy for me to catch HIV from someone who is infectedIn the UK, you will only become infected by someone living with HIV if you have sex without a condom or share a needle or injecting equipment with them. HIV is not spread through day-to-day contact, touching, kissing or sharing utensils. In addition, being on HIV treatment makes people with HIV far less likely to pass it on.
There are no symptoms of HIV
It’s true that some people don’t show any symptoms of HIV infection until after many years of living with the virus. But the majority of people with HIV (70-90%) do show some symptoms soon after infection. Symptoms usually develop about 10 days after infection.
This is often called primary HIV infection or sero-conversion illness. Such symptoms disappear after two to three weeks and then a person can seem healthy for a number of years. The most common symptoms of primary HIV infection are fever, rash and severe sore throat all occurring together. This triad of symptoms is unusual and should indicate the need for an HIV test.

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