AIDS and HIV are serious health conditions that impact people all over the world. In America, it was first recognized in the LGBT+ community in the 1980s. Very little was known about the illnesses at first, but more research is being done every year. While HIV/AIDS once wiped out populations, it is no longer a death sentence. Read on to learn all about HIV/AIDS and World AIDS Day.
Content warning: this article contains mentions of death, particularly in the LGBT+ community. If such subjects are sensitive for you, it may be best to skip this article.
What Is HIV/AIDS?
HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus, and it attacks the white blood cells in blood. Unfortunately, white blood cells are the body’s natural defense against outside infection. AIDS, which is the final stage of HIV, is acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Once a patient shifts from HIV to AIDS, that is when there are serious issues. For someone with AIDS, their immune systems are so weak that the common cold can kill them.
HIV/AIDS is passed on in a number of ways. Primarily, through body fluids from an HIV/AIDS positive person entering someone else. Common means of transmission include: sexual fluids, blood, and birth fluids.
There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. However, there is medicine that fights HIV and prevents it from developing into AIDS.
What Is World AIDS Day?
World AIDS Day happens on December 1st every year, starting in 1988. In fact, World AIDS Day is the first global health day to bring awareness to a particular condition. The day is an opportunity to unite against the disease globally by raising awareness and spreading education. Everyone can support those currently living with HIV and commemorate those lost to HIV/AIDS.
The most common way to do this is by wearing red or a red ribbon. Red is the color of HIV/AIDS awareness. Wearing a red ribbon often sparks educating conversations. This is especially important for a condition that has so much stigma surrounding it.
History Of The AIDS Crisis
In 1981, medical professionals noticed a few serious health issues in previously completely healthy gay men. The illnesses – PCP & Kaposi’s Sarcoma – are both associated with immunocompromised individuals. These conditions begin to be associated with the LGBT+ community as “gay pneumonia” and “gay cancer”. There are 337 cases of AIDS this year and 130 pass away before the year is over. The condition still has no official name.
By early 1982, the term GRID is coined to describe the epidemic. GRID means Gay-Related Immune Deficiency. In September of 1982, the CDC finally establishes the term AIDS to describe the growing problem. Congress does not approve any funds for AIDS research and treatment until July of 1983.
From 1980 to 2002, over half a million people in the United States alone died from AIDS or AIDS related complications. The communities impacted are predominantly the LGBT+ community, as well as communities of color, and those of a lower socio-economic standing.
Wear red or a red ribbon on December 1st to recognize the global fight against HIV/AIDS.