World AIDs Day

December 1, 2017
World AIDs Day

Today is World AIDs Day. Over 35 million people in the world are living with HIV/AIDS. Nations all over Africa and parts of Asia have been decimated by HIV/AIDs. AIDS first came to prominence after the scare of the 80s when people didn’t know how the disease was transmitted. With no previous research, doctors had little idea how to treat the disease, and people were dying quickly, and with large numbers.

In the movie Philadelphia, Tom Hanks plays a gay man living with HIV, and navigating his life at a time when no one wanted to be around people with HIV because they thought it was easy to get. People would not go near anyone who had HIV, share food, or be in the same room as them. Philadelphia helped to shine a light on this discrimination and lower the stigma associated with HIV/AIDs. Recently, Matthew McConaughey stared in the historically accurate Dallas Buyers Club; as Ron Woodruff, a straight man who contracts HIV/AIDs and orchestrates a pool of members to “buy in” to the club to receive drugs for the treatment of their condition. While Hollywood has done a fair job at depicting the AIDs epidemic, they were also impacted. Celebrities who are living, or dead, who have been diagnosed with HIV are, Magic Johnson, Eazy-E, Tina Chow, Freddie Mercury, Charlie Sheen, Liberace, and countless other.

The Mayo Clinic describes HIV as having a white blood cell count lower than 200, where the immune system is weakened. Without treatment, HIV will “progress to AIDs within 10 years.” The progression is marked by symptoms of, “soaking night sweats, recurring fever, chronic diarrhea, lesions, weight loss, skin rashes or bumps.”

Those who are at risk for getting HIV are people who engage in high sexual risk behavior, those born to parents who have HIV, and intravenous drug users. While there is no cure for HIV/AIDs, treatment with prescription drugs has been proven to expand life expectancy to well over 20 years. Other important factors are to eat a healthy diet, use protection, don’t use needles, and to form a support group.

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