December 1st is World AIDS Day. Did you know that there are over a million Americans living with HIV or AIDS? There are over 33 million people worldwide living with HIV right now. In the United States, medical advancements have made it possible for HIV+ individuals to live full lives with an outlook for an average life expectancy. Even here, however, in a country where people should know better, one of the biggest challenges that people with HIV face is the stigma attached to their disease. I've been horrified by some of the misconceptions that my students voice in the classroom. Last week I was asked, "How many people can you sleep with before you get AIDS?" Saying that someone has AIDS is still considered to be a perfectly good insult among some of my pupils.
Here are some facts that I wish everyone would spread:
- HIV is a fragile virus that cannot be transmitted through casual contact. You can't get it from hugging, kissing, swimming pools, mosquitoes, pets, snot, vomit, pee, sharing baths, toilet seats, food, silverware, doorknobs, tears, sweat, or in any type of normal daily activity.
- HIV is spread from an infected individual only through sex, sharing needles or syringes, or by being exposed to HIV before or during birth or through breast feeding.
- Because the risk of transmitting HIV through daily casual contact is nonexistant, people with HIV are not required by law to tell anyone (employers, daycares, schools, etc.) of their condition. You may very well already know someone who is living with HIV.
Project Hopeful put together the video above as a way of spreading the truth about HIV.