Every December since 1995, United Nations member countries take part in AIDS Awareness Month and an event called World AIDS Day. Human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome have statistically killed over 23 million people since 1981 and over 33.2 million people are estimated to have HIV/AIDS worldwide, according to the Nursing Standard journal.
It has been considered one of the most destructive pandemics ever faced by mankind. With such a crippling effect on people who are HIV-Positive, efforts have been made to prevent its spread.
However, nowadays, HIV/AIDS are pushed into the corner. People overlook the illness and proclaim it to only be an epidemic to run through the 1980s. There are still programs and events to promote awareness. However, when HIV/AIDS transitioned from a terminal disease to a chronic illness in the mid-1990’s, focus began to drift away from the illness because it was now manageable.
“I wasn’t really educated in it,” said junior Michael Potter. “I had a week or two covered in health class back in high school, but we didn’t go into detail on what it is or anything like that. All I was taught is HIV and AIDS are bad and not to get it.”
Representation of HIV/AIDS awareness is not properly displayed within the U.S. or even internationally.
Obviously, there are awareness days in all U.N. countries, but our community is really ignoring the problem.
“Awareness for HIV or AIDS is going to be the same in the next 5 to 10 years,” said junior Cameron Lewis. “I think that’s mainly because it seemed to stop being a thing after the 90s.”
On Dec. 3, California Lutheran University held a World AIDS Day event in the Swenson Center. It was a panel held by representatives from Planned Parenthood and the Hope Lutheran Church in Hollywood.
The panelists, Steve Timmons, Joshua Thomas and Mark Davis, shared experiences about their diagnosis, educated the audience on what is necessary to expect from the illness and discussed the effects it has on their life.
The panel was meant to encourage young adults to get tested and to not be afraid to speak up. Thomas shared with the audience that there is still hope after the disease. The panelists agreed that even though it might be rough, there is still hope for a better life.
“It’s made me see who I am, but it physically has its toll,” Timmons said.
“It’s different now. It’s become much more manageable,” said Timmons about treatment. “It’s not something like in my position where 16-22 years ago, you took the pills and you were immediately sick. And a lot of people couldn’t work because of it. Now, it’s much more manageable.”
The panelists, as well as the HIV-Positive community, encouraged the public to learn and research the HIV/AIDS pandemic, because education and awareness are the keys to preventing its spread.
“It’s as simple as spreading the word or talking about it because people don’t discuss it,” Timmons said.
With proper awareness and adequate treatment, hopefully this deadly virus can be stopped in its tracks.
Published December 11, 2013