This year World AIDS day is on Wednesday 1 December. It is a day to show support for those with HIV/AIDS, raise awareness, improve education, join the fight and commemorate those who have passed away from it.
An estimated 38 million people globally have the virus, and more than 35 million people have passed away from HIV or AIDS-related illnesses. It was identified in 1984 and is one of the most devastating pandemics the world has seen. It is important to observe World AIDS day as it reminds all of us that HIV has not gone away, and there is a need to combat it collectively.
Scientific advances have been made in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, we understand so much more about it, and there are laws to protect sufferers. However, every year, more people are diagnosed with HIV, and people don’t know how to protect themselves and others. Another dimension of World AIDS Day is to reduce stigma and discrimination for those living with the condition.
Now you may be wondering what you can do to help the cause. In fact, there is a lot you can do just by changing your own behaviour.
Ten things* you can do for World AIDS Day:
- Get tested for HIV – Knowing your status is absolutely vital. In that way, you can make the right decisions for yourself—and your partner.
- Wear a red ribbon—By simply wearing a red ribbon, you are adding to awareness.
- Get informed—You need to know how to keep yourself safe.
- Attend an event—Show your support for the cause and also help raise money.
- Volunteer—Your time is possibly the most critical aspect of the day. Why don’t you volunteer at an orphanage for AIDS orphans and put a smile on a child’s face?
- Get your own condoms—Your safety is in your hands. Don’t be embarrassed to get your own condoms (even if you are a woman) or go to clinics where you can get them for free.
- Raise funds or donate to the TAC—The Treatment Action Campaign advocates for access to AIDS treatment. They depend on donors. Visit them at www.tac.org.za
- Add a red ribbon to your social media profile—Make your profile pic on Facebook and/or Twitter the AIDS ribbon for December and encourage your friends to do the same.
- Make a promise to yourself—Don’t have sex with someone you don’t love and trust. Also, if they refuse to take precautions, know that they are not respecting you. Do not be pressured!
- Educate others—Share your knowledge! Educate others to help prevent the further spread of the disease.
Myths and facts about HIV
To fully support those with AIDS, you should be able to separate fact from fiction.
- You can tell who has HIV and who doesn’t
- Nobody can tell just by looking at someone whether they are HIV positive or not.
- Only homosexuals get HIV/AIDS
- Anyone can get HIV/AIDS no matter of orientation, race or creed.
- You can get HIV from using public toilets
- No matter how unhygienic they may seem, one cannot get HIV from a toilet seat. It is important to remember that HIV is spread through unprotected sex, needle-sharing or mother-to-child transmission.
Globally, Namibia has the sixth-highest rate of HIV, with around 8% of the population having it. That is approximately 176,000 people ages 15-64. It is the leading cause of death in the country and has led to many orphans and vulnerable children.
In Namibia, Project HOPE is working to mitigate the impact of HIV by ensuring access to quality health care for vulnerable populations. You can find the many ways you can help under the tab “Ways to Help”.
Wear your ribbon this AIDS day and show you care!