HIV prevention is about…..
While the global community is undertaking initiatives in the areas of scientific development, healthcare and universal access, and community organizing in the name of HIV prevention, we must do our own part to be the change that we wish to see in our own lives and around the world.
In your own spheres of influence, don’t shy away from having conversations about HIV, how it is transmitted, and what measures we can take to prevent transmission. Even in the US, stigma and shame still surround HIV, so it is vital that we play our role in continuing to bring the discussion into public spheres while doing what we can to combat the perceptions that feed into the marginalization of individuals with HIV.
The conversations may not always be easy, but we must educate our youth about HIV and its transmission. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; Only 1 in 3 young people have full knowledge of how HIV is transmitted. Young people between the ages of 15-24 account for 40% of all new infections. While having discussions about abstinence, we cannot fail to acknowledge the reality of the world that our youth are living in and equip them with the knowledge to make smart decisions and to take cautionary measures in the form of contraceptives. I support Christian ideals of chastity, but also believe that we must prepare ourselves and others as the world may not function according to myopic ideals of perfection like we would prefer it to.
And if we engage in sexual relations with another person and do not have absolute certainty about and proof of their status, we must GET TESTED not only for our own health but in the name of prevention of transmitting HIV to another individual.
If you happen to be in Chicago, the Chicago Department of Public Health offers free, anonymous and confidential HIV testing at the locations listed here. If you are in another city, internet search engines do wonders in locating resources and testing sites :). Encourage your friends and family members to get tested and if they are open to it or would like someone to accompany them, go with them. Life can be hard enough as it is, and we shouldn’t have to go the difficult parts alone. If you live in Chicago and can’t bring yourself to ask someone that you know to accompany you in getting tested and you would prefer to not go by yourself, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, check out www.facebook.com/UNAIDS