Raise HIV & AIDS Awareness One Conversation at a Time

by Jenn

hivHuman Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus responsible for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).  Not everyone infected with HIV will develop AIDS, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be talking about the disease. People shouldn’t become educated about HIV and AIDS because it is also something we can avoid.  We have to take control, and raise awareness for HIV and AIDS.  How does one raise awareness for HIV and AIDS? 

How To Raise Awareness About HIV and AIDS (2)Raise HIV & AIDS Awareness One Conversation at a Time

Here are a few ways you can increase awareness for HIV and AIDS.

  • Learn – Take time to learn about HIV and AIDS yourself.  Just educating yourself will give you the tools you need to help others learn to raise awareness.  HIV isn’t spread by touch; you cannot get HIV from shaking hands or hugging an infected person. 
  • Teach your children – If you have children old enough to know what sex is, talk to them about HIV and AIDS.  Be sure to have a discussion about HIV, help them become educated.  Help your children understand HIV and AIDS are real, and how they can prevent getting the virus.
  • Family and friends – Talk with family and friends openly about HIV and AIDS, because merely talking about the illness is increasing awareness and helping others become more comfortable with the subject.  It also helps others remember HIV and AIDS are real, out there, and something that needs to be talked about in our homes, with our kids, families and friends.
  • Social media – As you may know October 15th was National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD), and if you were online you probably read tweets or Facebook status updates about raising awareness.  Social media are a powerful tool, especially when we use it for good, because WE CAN STOP HIV ONE CONVERSATION AT A TIME!

There are plenty of ways one can help to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, but you need to get the facts about HIV & AIDS, and have that one conversation!  I remember when I was younger everyone talked about HIV, and they were scared of getting a virus.  It seems like people were more worried about the virus, but it could just be that I was younger.  I know I was scared to death of getting HIV because I was young when Magic Johnson made his announcement.  He was my favorite basketball player, and I was devastated.  It was enough to scare me, and added to the discussions my parents had with me it was enough to stick with me my entire life.  I have always practiced safe sex, and tried to be smart, so I didn’t get HIV or AIDS.  

HIV and AIDS is in every community, it doesn’t discriminate, and anyone can get it.  However, Hispanics/Latinos seem to be the fastest growing ethnic minority here in the United States.  Starting the conversation will help protect our communities from HIV and help to reduce the spread of the virus to others.  HIV and AIDS isn’t an easy conversation, but it’s one we all should talk openly about to help protect our family, friends, and those in our communities.   

The CDC is working to raise awareness about the impact the HIV virus has among Hispanics and Latinos here in the United States, and I’m going to admit.  I feel blessed to be part of this HIV and AIDS awareness campaign to help encourage other Hispanic and Latinos in the United States to speak openly about HIV and AIDS. 

If wanting to stop the virus isn’t enough, check out these statistics:

Hispanics/Latinos in the United States are disproportionately affected by HIV.  Representing 16% of the total U.S. population, they account for 19% of the 1.1 million people in the United States who are living with HIV and the 21% of new HIV infections yearly.  If these current trends continue, it’s estimated that 1 in 26 Hispanic/Latina men and 1 in 106 Hispanic/Latina women will be diagnosed with HIV at some point in their life.

Some people might believe talking about sex, HIV, AIDS, and sexuality is embarrassing, but studies show talking about HIV and AIDS can help. People know how they can prevent the disease, and in my opinion, it’s also a reminder to the fact HIV is real, and people are becoming infected with the virus all the time.  Talking about it can save lives, and protect those we care about – HIV prevention, HIV testing, practicing safe sex, and educating people about HIV can help lower HIV infections. 

I have personally been affected by HIV and AIDS.  One of my good friends growing up died from AIDS because she didn’t seek treatment until it was too late.  She was dabbling in drugs and didn’t feel it was important then.  I learned childhood old friend was diagnosed with HIV, which had turned into AIDS because she didn’t seek treatment until it was too late.  She was too young to say goodbye; she was two years younger than me growing up.

I come from a small town, and my parents still live there and will probably never move, LOL.  I moved right after high school, but I still have my family and several great friends there.  So, defiantly a reason to visit and keep in touch with people.  

Several years ago my mom called me and told me one of the girls I used to run around with in high school was diagnosed with HIV.  I was honestly in shock, because you don’t think about things like that happening in a small town, to people you know. 

I still stop and see her, and I applaud her, because she speaks openly about her experience.  She is thankful her baby did not test positive after she was born. She told me several years ago that it was hard for her to talk about HIV, but she liked to share her story because it helps educate others.  She wishes she would have been better educated about HIV, but like many of us she didn’t think it would happen to her. 

She didn’t ask for HIV, and the way she got it could happen to any of us.  She meets a guy; he swept her off her feet.  She found out she was pregnant after almost a year of being with this guy.  Shortly after learns he cheated on her with several other girls and left him.  When she started visiting the doctor because of her pregnancy they tested her for HIV, and she tested positively.  

Sharing her story was hard in the beginning, because he didn’t believe her.  She felt the right thing to do was tell people she knew he slept with, which did mean telling people she was HIV positive.  In a small town that isn’t easy, people a judgemental, but I applaud her.   

In the end, there was a lot of people in this small little town in New Mexico who were diagnosed with HIV, because nobody thought it could happen to them.  They were not educated, because it wasn’t talked about openly.  Yes, I do think it would have made a different.  Maybe not to all, but some are better than none.

We have to speak openly about HIV and AIDS because education is the key to stopping the spread of HIV in our communities.  We Can Stop HIV One Conversation at a Time/Podemos Detener el VIH Una Conversación a la Vez (www.cdc.gov/OneConversation)

WE CAN STOP HIV ONE CONVERSATION AT A TIMEParents we MUST talk with our children about the seriousness of HIV and AIDS.  Hispanic/Latinos 13 to 24 years old make up 20% of all new HIV infections in 2010!  The increasing HIV trend cannot continue we need to be teaching our children; they need to know this is real, it’s out there, and there are ways to prevent it.

I started watching episode one of Sin Vergüenza, and I couldn’t stop watching until I watched the last episode!  It’s a great short film that helps remind us HIV is real, it can happen to anyone, at any age, and it could happen to anyone who doesn’t protect themselves.  

We can prevent HIV and AIDS one conversation at a time.  By talking about HIV testing, the important of knowing your HIV status, using condoms correctly, getting treatment if someone is HIV positive, getting involved, and by starting one conversation at a time.   

Join us and help raise HIV and AIDS awareness by starting one conversation, and sharing this post to your social outlets.  Let’s get people talking!  Visit our #OneConversation on Twitter to start creating awareness.

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