I debated with myself about posting this piece for World AIDS Awareness day because I feel that having awareness about HIV and AIDS should not be rested in one day of kumbahyah and “We Will Survive” panels. For millions suffering with the virus, it is everyday and everyday there are brand new cases. More than 50% of new cases are African-Americans and caught far too late. Just like Black History (or any other cultural history for that matter), one day, one week, one month, none of that is enough. I feel acknowledging HIV and AIDS for simply a day diminishes the urgency to inform and mobilize the public with information enable to stunt the growth of this virus and work closer to a cure.
I’m no expert on HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome), hence why I will be providing links to those who are. I can only stress that you should be tested if you are sexually active (currently having sex or has had sex and currently celibate) or have taken drugs with needles (in addition, I highly advise you to get help for the addiction, drugs are not the joyride they appear to be). There are many testing centers throughout cities, all free. If you don’t know where there is a testing center for you, the CDC has a website to find a testing center nearest you with just your zip code. If you are infected with the virus and continually sexually active, please inform your bedmates that you are infected and use condoms. HIV/AIDS is tearing through the Black community around the world because of misinformation and silence about the virus. HIV can lay dormant for up to ten years before it becomes full-blown AIDS and the initial symptoms can appear flu-like so there is no sure-fire way to know whether you are infected or not unless you get tested. There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS, only medicine to improve living with the illness and allowing those affected to live longer.
HIV/AIDS Awareness is beyond a day because as I said, one day is not enough. Become very aware of the 30-year history of the virus to understand how it came about and was handled in the past up to now, learn about the debates of HIV/AIDS medicine and the politics involved, learn what causes the virus to become epidemics in certain groups such as Black women but also in groups not oft discussed, Black intravenous drug users, learn the difference between STDs and HIV/AIDS and most of all, learn about condoms and their use in the fight against the disease in the Black community.
Here are the sites for HIV/AIDS awareness and knowledge. To keep this post easy to find, I’ll will be introducing a new category titled “Resources & Information”:
Greater Than – Great resource on HIV and AIDS for the Black community. Learn about the virus, how it varies from other STDs, how it’s contracted, finding a testing center and more!
Condom Depot – To best protect yourself from the virus sexually, wear a condom, use lubrication and please read their “Learning Center” for more HIV/AIDS and STD information and world news. Product and information all in one place.
Former Surgeon General Koop’s warning – The more World AIDS days that pass, please do not forget that there is a lot of knowledge that is not going around. Just going, “Eh, not my problem” is a problem in itself.
HIV/AIDS ravages throughout the Black community worldwide, taking lives and new cases popping up each and everyday in men, women and children. Until we can find a cure, all that we can do to really fight the virus is with information and awareness and that’s going to take more than one day. It’s everyday.