World AIDS Day

Today was World AIDS Day, the one day set aside each year to raise awareness of AIDS/HIV, fight prejudice, improve education, and reflect on how AIDS and HIV have changed our world, and more importantly, our lives.

Here is an excerpt of my post from last year.

Unlike some other diseases, the AIDS pandemic knows no boundaries. People from every walk of life have been affected by it one way or another and almost a quarter of those living with it haven’t even been diagnosed yet. So that means they have no idea they are infected and they could be spreading it to others.

HIV is transmitted through intraveneous drug use, unprotected sex, and blood transfusions. You cannot get HIV by shaking someone’s hand or hugging them. You cannot get it by using a public telephone, restroom, or a drinking fountain. You cannot get it by sharing a drink, dinner, or silverware, and you cannot get it from mosquitos or by giving blood. But you CAN get it.

I am constantly amazed at the number of organizations which focus on educating the public about AIDS/HIV but are ignorant of the fact they have become marketing tools to keep the spin machine turning. Imagine how much could be accomplished if all of the money raised for AIDS/HIV awareness was used for research. Imagine how different the world would be if that research focused on those people actually at high risk.

It doesn’t take much to realize who is in the high risk group and who is not, although you would not know that if you’ve been watching and listening to the media or the advertisements created to instill fear on the general population.

The highest number of new cases of HIV include heterosexual women. While heterosexual women are not in the high risk group, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out how they are contracting the disease, so why not turn some attention toward those who bring it home?

I don’t think the majority of our society needs to worry about contracting HIV. Their time would be better spent making sure they are eating properly, exercising frequently, and doing everything they can to keep themselves out of high risk groups for other illnesses like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should get an HIV test. Many Americans are living with HIV and they don’t even know it because they haven’t been tested. They have no idea they have HIV because they’ve never taken the time to get tested. That is not a scare tactic, it’s simply the truth.

In 2006, I did a podcast about World AIDS Day, and although ISPN Media is no more, you can still listen to it here.

[audio:http://www.michaeltbarrett.com/audio/20061201.TestPattern.0015.mp3]

Vinny wrote an excellent post today on why we’ll never find the cure for AIDS/HIV and summed it up quite nicely.

Take this day, and instead of buying into the propaganda, or wearing a red shirt or buying a red iPod, show your support by insisting that the people researching the disease actually research the disease rather than spend countless dollars on advertising and PSA’s that lie to the population about their risk for getting the disease.

The facts are simple. Heterosexual monogamous non-injection drug users are almost completely not at risk. Let’s focus our attention on those that are and solve this thing once and for all.

I agree whole-heartedly. Help raise awareness about AIDS/HIV by making sure that research is focused on finding the cure, not trying to convince 80% of the population that the sky is going to come falling down tomorrow. We have enough to worry about as it is.