December 1st was World AIDS Day. Awarness activities were held all around the world from the Americas to India to further the work towards eliminating or at least slowing down infection rates, morbidity and mortality. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are about 36.9 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS. There are countless global efforts that are aimed at helping people living at or below the poverty line receive the life saving antiretroviral therapy (ART) drugs. In the United States, there are about 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Even though infection rates have stabilized over the last few years, the highest infection rate populations are: Men that have Sex with Men (MSM) and IV drug users. Among the American female population, heterosexual black/African-American women are the most at-risk compared to their white, Hispanic and Asian counterparts.
HIV/AIDS has been around for over 30 years now. In the 1980s, it was mainly gay, white men that were being infected and affected by this disease. Today, not only has infection rates crosses gender lines, but it has crossed color and sexual orientation lines as well. With all of the information, iniatives, planning, commercials, public service announcements, etc. the message is still not influencing the behaviors of "some" people. While there are many others that have changed their behaviors, there is still a lot of work to be done. People still continue to engage in risky behaviors despite knowing that HIVAIDS is a real threat. And living in a day where social media and dating apps have made it so easy to "hook up" with strangers, the fight is becoming even more challenging.
Now, this is not to say that every person who is infected participated in risky behaviors. Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS has been brought home by a cheating spouse/partner to the unsuspecting faithful spouse/partner. So how do you prevent contracting this disease when you're married and/or in what you "think" is a committed and exclusive relationship? No easy answer to that. However, it is recommended that before you engage in any kind of sexual activities (oral, vaginal, anal) you want to get tested and have your sexual partner(s) tested. Always use condoms for vaginal and anal sex and use dental dams for oral sex. If a partner is unwilling to use protection, that means he/she doesn't want to have sex with you. Period. End of discussion. Continue to get tested throughout your marriage/relationship for accountability once a year during your annual physical. Stay in constant communication with your partner/spouse about sex and your relationship. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own health. Please be proactive about your own body/health.
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy, first introduced by President Obama in 2010, identifies a set of priorities and action steps for moving the United States forward in addressing the epidemic. The strategy was released in July 2015 and updated for the next 5 years to 2020. For more information on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, please visit https://www.aids.gov/federal-resources/national-hiv-aids-strategy/overview/
For more information on World AIDS Day, HIV/AIDS general information, visit the CDC's website: http://www.cdc.gov/features/worldaidsday/index.html
To locate a confidential testing site in your area, please visit https://www.aids.gov/locator/