Whatever Happened to World AIDS Day?

Posted: December 5, 2011 in health
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The excellent blog Lonely Boy Blue asks:

Today HIVers can take as little as one pill-a-day and keep HIV in check.  We can lead nearly normal lives, looking like everyone on the street, blending in.  As a result, HIV education and prevention has fallen in priority. Government funding is being cut. This year in London alone the NHS cut funding to HIV programmes by 43% in spite of a 73% increase in diagnoses in the last decade.*  It’s no longer a pressing concern. Why continue funding HIV education and prevention if no one is dying because of these great drugs?

We have lost site of the importance of HIV education and prevention.  We all have become complacent in our attitudes towards HIV because people can and are living longer on these drugs.  The attitude among gay men is worse than their straight counterparts. Gay men know they should wear condoms to protect themselves from contracting the virus, yet younger men are the latest increase in HIV diagnoses.  It is estimated that over the last year over 6000 contracted HIV in the UK.  More than 17 people everyday in the UK are contracting HIV!  WHY? Why are people still contracting HIV?

A couple more statistics worth noting: according the HPA report on HIV in the UK, “Half of adults were diagnosed with HIV at a late stage of infection in 2009 (CD4 counts less than 350 per mm3 within three months of diagnosis), the stage at which treatment is recommended to begin. “ “One in six MSM (men having sex with men), and one in sixteen heterosexuals newly diagnosed with HIV had acquired their infection within the previous 4-5 months before diagnosis.” “New diagnoses among MSM remained high…; four out of five probably acquired their infection in the UK.”

All of this leads me to my feeling being let down.  I have been let down by the government.  Let down by society.  Let down by you!  A quick look at the events for World AIDS Day 2011 at www.worldaidsday.com/eventswill show just how little education, prevention or testing account for this day’s activties!  And you, dear reader, are the reason it happens.  You, dear reader, support these bars, pubs, and clubs, which use World AIDS Day as another way to make money for themselves (someone please explain to me what a strip-a-thon or cheaper entry fees into clubs if you wear a red ribbon have to do with HIV education, prevention or testing).  You lessen the importance of today by going out and getting drunk, some of you taking drugs, both of which lowers inhibitions and can lead to unsafe sex practices and in the biggest irony of the day could very well lead to you contracting HIV!

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