Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Today is World AIDS Day

Every 9 1/2 minutes someone is infected with HIV. For some reason we've come to the conclusion that HIV AIDS really isn't a problem anymore. But don't be fooled by the invisibility. People are still catching, getting ill and dying because of this virus. And a shout out to my black bruthas and sistahs, we seem to be especially vulnerable. Although we're only about 12% of the population of the US, we make up about half of all new HIV infections. Truth is HIV is still very much alive and well.

World AIDS Day is a day set aside to remember those we've lost and honor those living with this disease. The burden of the red ribbon for those infected and affected is devastating. There is still a lot of misinformation and stigma associated with HIV that causes many infected to hide in the shadows. People would rather not disclose for fear of what would happen should the info be discovered. Or they will distance themselves from loved ones so they don't have to deal.

HIV is too heavy a burden to carry alone. It takes its toll physically, mentally and emotionally and each of these aspects need to be addressed. So it's important to be open and honest with those close to you. There love and support will be essential.

And my advice to those that have someone close to you that is positive. There is no need to panic. If you're not sharing needles or having unprotected sex with the individual then there is no need to be afraid. HIV is not transmitted by touch or through the air.

Another truth we must face about this disease, many people living with HIV don't even know their true status. There is the assumption that since I was negative in my last test then I'm still negative (even though that last HIV test happened five years ago). So people believe there partners when they say, "I'm fine. I don't have HIV. I've been tested." And BAM, another person infected.

I want to encourage everyone to get tested. And I want to encourage everyone to get involved in the fight against HIV. Find an AIDS service organization and make a donation or volunteer your time. There are plenty of worthy non-profits out there that could use your help. And finally, get informed about HIV. Learn how best to avoid transmission. Learn what steps you need to take to take care of yourself should you discover your positive. And learn how be there for those in your life that are positive and need your support.

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