December 1st is World AIDS Day! Wear your red ribbons this month – better yet, all year – to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS, or to support someone you know who’s living with it.
It’s a day to get educated and know the truth about HIV and AIDS, in order to eliminate the myths that continue to cycle about it. And for those of you who are educated: share the word! Wrong information is the main fuel for cruel judgement, sour stigma, and outright ignorant behaviour.
The international goal is Getting to Zero – zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths. It’s a strategy designed by UNAIDS; a division of the United Nations. And my contribution is to raise awareness. So many people are fearful of “catching” the virus as if it were airborne, without bothering to learn how it’s truly transmitted.
I challenge you to take the following quiz (especially my British friends). Some questions are notably UK-specific, so if anyone finds a good Canadian one, let me know!
How’d you do on the test?! Need some brushing up on the basics? Don’t worry, I got you covered!
I found another quiz (with a detailed answer key), that’s not digitally interactive, but certainly educational! It actually works great as a print-off to test your peers in the office or at school!
My best advice is for you to get tested and know your HIV status. Did you know that in Canada alone, 25% – that’s a quarter! – of those living with HIV do not even know they are infected! Why? Because in most cases there are no symptoms that you’ve even contracted the virus, or it’s shrugged off as any ole fever. The only way to know if you’re infected is to get a blood test.
The test is so simple these days. The nurse simply pricks your fingertip, extracts some blood, and tests it right there and then. You’ll know your status within minutes, rather than the usual two weeks it used to take. Search online for a local clinic near you.
How often should you get tested? Well, for those who are sexually active, it’s suggested every year. For those with further risk of HIV exposure, such as being in a mixed-status relationship, having condomless sex, or sharing needles, should get tested every three to four months.
The earlier you diagnose HIV, the easier it is to treat the virus and become non-infectious.
Respect yourself and keep you, and your partners, safe.
Fun fact (that I learned from my clever boyfriend): The red ribbon that signifies AIDS awareness is one of the first health awareness ribbons, created in the 80’s. It was only after that, that other health programs took up the ribbon and changed its colours and patterns for their own awareness campaigns.
If you have more questions, check out www.catie.ca, for more Canadian information on HIV and AIDS.
Spread love and knowledge, not fear. Xoxo