[Laura Noakes | Deputy Print Editor]
December 1st marks World AIDS day, a day that raises awareness for those affected by HIV and AIDS. First established in 1988, this years theme is “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation”.
HIV is a virus that attack a person’s immune system, weakening them so they are unable to fight infections adequately. It is primarily transmitted through unprotected sex, but can also be spread via contaminated blood transfusions and needles and from mother to child during pregnancy and breastfeeding. AIDS is a progression of HIV, and happens when a persons immune system is so weak they are unable to fight infections any longer.
Although there is no cure for AIDS, over the last twenty years there have been massive developments in treatment for those who suffer from HIV and this allows those affected to live much longer. However, there is still a great deal of stigma attached to AIDS sufferers. Many people are still confused about how HIV is passed on. To bust some of the myths: You cannot become HIV positive through saliva, flea bites or fish pedicures, and HIV does not only affect gay men – more HIV diagnoses in 2010 were acquired heterosexually than homosexually.
The World Health Organisation is encouraging to people to take a selfie to reduce the stigma attached to those suffering from HIV and AIDS. To join in the #facingaids campaign simply download the app, take a selfie, write a message saying why you are facing AIDS and share on social media. If you are sexually active it is important to practice safe sex and to have regular testing for HIV. The finger pricking test allows you to get your results in a minute. There will be free and confidential HIV testing on the 27th November on De Havilland in the Student Union Office.