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Pope Recognizes World AIDS Day

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kimberley Wright
  • 43rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron
Dec. 1 was World Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome Day. The first World AIDS day was held August 1987, in Geneva Switzerland. James Bunn and Thomas Netter, Public Information Officers for the Global Program on AIDS, developed the concept to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection.

This year's theme was "Universal Access and Human Rights" with an overarching theme of "Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise." Universal access is a way to ensure that all people, especially those in low and middle income families, are receiving the care and education that they need. The human rights aspect focuses on the discrimination, stigma and prejudice that many people living with HIV/AIDS face daily. Oftentimes, infected people are shunned by their community, jobs and family members. The effects of unequal rights make it very difficult for infected people to manage their disease.

There are a total of more than 1 million people in America living with HIV/AIDS. Approximately one-fifth of these people are unaware that they are infected. People who are unaware they have HIV can pass the virus to others. This places them in the critical category for transmission of the disease. Transmission of HIV can occur by sexual contact, sharing needles with infected people or from mother to child during childbirth or breastfeeding. The main point to remember is HIV/AIDS is preventable.

Testing is the only means of knowing if an individual has the infection. It is easy to come in contact with the disease. Avoid any unnecessary chances with life. Protection is available with consistent use of condoms or abstinence. A mutual monogamous relationship with a confirmed HIV negative partner can also reduce the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.