World AIDS Day is when citizens across the world unite to show support for people living with HIV and to remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.
What is HIV?
HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that can make people sick by attacking their immune system. When someone gets infected with HIV, the virus can weaken their immune system over time, making it harder for their body to fight off other illnesses. If not treated, HIV can lead to a condition called AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), which is a more severe stage of the disease.
Key Facts to fight stigma
- HIV can affect anyone in any community. In Canada, almost one-third of new HIV cases are a result of heterosexual sex, and women represent almost a quarter of all Canadians living with HIV
- If a person living with HIV is on effective treatment, they won’t progress to AIDS.
- With effective treatment through pregnancy and childbirth, transmission of HIV to the infant can be stopped.
- If a person is living with HIV, on treatment and has an undetectable viral load, they can’t pass it on. Undetectable = untransmittable, or U=U. Check out #SayZero to learn more.
- In 2021, there were 1,472 new HIV diagnoses in Canada – an 11.3% increase over 2020.
- HIV can only be transmitted through direct exposure to five bodily fluids (blood, semen, breast/chest milk, rectal fluids, vaginal or front-hole fluids). It cannot be passed through respiratory droplets, saliva, urine, or physical contact like kissing or hugging.
How can you make a change?
- Get Tested by ordering self-testing kits, order HIV self-testing kits online, or you can find your nearest sexual health provider to request more information.
- Learn more about how HIV works and what treatment options are out there
- Challenge the stigma by talking openly about HIV.
- To show support you can wear a Red Ribbon!
- If possible, donate to organizations working on HIV and AIDS.
Reference: Canadian Foundation for Aids Research. https://canfar.com/worldaidsday/