World AIDS Day is Saturday. It happens every year on Dec. 1. The International Theme this year, “Know Your Status”.
Although we have much to be thankful for as we celebrate this year, we still have 49,000 new HIV infections every year here in the United States.
Why is that? Many people ask us on a daily basis. We know how it is transmitted. We know how to prevent transmission. And we know how to treat it. But the allusive question remains why do we still have so many new infections every year?
I have a few thoughts about this. First, people are still afraid to go get tested because of the stigma, afraid they can’t pay for the treatment if they do have it, don’t know where to go, or feeling afraid and ashamed. This is by no means anexhaustive list.
Second, I believe they feel good for many, many years, until suddenly they don’t. Many of the new infections are in young people who feel invisible to begin with. Not having symptoms makes them think it didn’t happen to them.
Third, because of the complacency about HIV/AIDS. It’s not in the news anymore unless someone famous comes out. Schools don’t have as much time to attend to health and physical education for their students because of the need for more and more math and science. We are missing opportunity to teach ripe minds ready for knowledge.
Our young folks don’t have the memories of young beautiful men and women dropping dead like flies and attending way more funerals than anyone should have to attend.
We have much left to do about HIV prevention in our community. Just because you are not seeing it on the news doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
We have much gratitude for the science and research that has produced medications that have changed the game with HIV. Our patients who are HIV-positive are living healthy productive lives. Out of Matthew 25’s 428 current patients, only 10 percent of them have transmissible virus! The national average is 36 percent.
So as you can see we have many blessings but still have some miles to go. Please include all of those with HIV/AIDS in your thoughts and prayers on Dec. 1.
Cyndee Burton, R.N., is administrator of Matthew 25 AIDS Services, 452 Old Corydon Roard, Henderson