Every 16 seconds another person dies from AIDS.

Posted: February 9, 2012 by chelsiehinck in Uncategorized

AIDS.ORG: Information|Education|Action

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is a result of the development of an HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) positive person developing a further “AIDS indicator” illness. This is defined by the CDC AIDS Case Definition that can be found here. Not every person that is diagnosed with HIV develops AIDS, but an AIDS diagnosis cannot be reached without first contracting the HIV virus.

Why does this matter?

More than 30 million people have died of AIDS since it was first identified in 1981. 1.9 million people died in 2010 alone as a result of this pandemic.

HIV can be transmitted from one person to another in only a few ways:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal secretions
  • Breast Milk

The activities that put someone at risk for contracting HIV are:

  • Unprotected sexual contact
  • Direct blood contact through: injection with needles, blood transfusions, accidents in health care or certain blood products
  • Mother to baby (before or during birth, through breast milk)

Education on this subject in the past years has been the number one problem for people living with HIV/AIDS. Misconceptions about how the virus is spread creates a stigma and makes living with the virus a taboo subject. This stigma has been assigned to certain groups of people including people that identify inside of the LGBTQ community and people who live in impoverished conditions.

How does this relate to sex or sexualities?

Unprotected sex is the leading cause of the spread of HIV in the world. When individuals feel as if they will be judged because of their HIV-positive status they are less likely to share with potential sexual partners the risks involved in engaging in sex, simply because they are afraid of rejection. The stigma associated with this virus makes it impossible for people infected to feel as if they can lead a normal life–which is entirely possible with treatment. If treated correctly people with HIV can display very little symptoms and live a completely normal life, never developing AIDS. They can also live a normal sex life by practicing safe sex (using a barrier: condoms, etc.) and never pass the virus onto their partner.

The biggest problem facing people that contract HIV is the stigma attached. Common stigma associated with HIV/AIDS include:

  • That they have had many sexual partners
  • That they will infect someone by touch or kiss
  • That they somehow brought this upon themselves

The cause of all of the fear and connotation with HIV/AIDS is lack of education– fueling the misconceptions about this illness. This leads to higher levels of HIV being spread simply because people are unaware and afraid of being honest with any person they may have sex with out of fear of being ostracized.

Beyond that, in the early stages of the understanding of HIV/AIDS the virus was labeled as something that only affected those in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community. If a person was open about their HIV status it was immediately assumed (in some cases, with the general population) that they identified inside of that realm. This made daily life for any person already struggling with an illness increasingly difficult. Not only because of the assumptions placed on their life but the judgements and blame associated on a blameless sickness.

That’s where organizations like aids.org come in.

AIDS.ORG

The mission statement on AIDS.ORG website is as follows:

The mission of AIDS.ORG is to help prevent HIV infections and to improve the lives of those affected by HIV and AIDS by providing education and facilitating the free and open exchange of knowledge at an easy-to-find centralized website.

The organization works as a huge source of information for any person seeking more information about HIV and AIDS and creates an online community in which people with HIV or AIDS can feel safe and accepted.

Using the medium of the internet to spread information has become one of the leading ways to connect people around the world. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is a global issue, affecting millions of people world-wide. While smaller organizations work on a grass roots level to bring education, medicine and protection to individuals; this website allows for any person with access to a computer and the internet to have a plethora of information at their finger tips.

This website is an important resource especially in underdeveloped areas of the world because it makes access to health care information obtainable. While assuming that the internet and computers are readily available in underdeveloped areas the use of this website is free so it would only require a trip to a place with internet access– much less costly than a trip to a clinic.

In developed areas this resource is still useful as it stays up to date on the latest news and drug information regarding HIV/AIDS as shown below on the “news” portion of the website.

Allowing for quick and easy access to dozens of other websites containing information pertinent to HIV/AIDS patients or just someone interested in knowing more.

AIDS.org is google’s number one resource for information on HIV/AIDS and in 2010 the organization provided more than 4 million people with basic information about this illness. Of those 4 million 2.4 million were under the age of 25–catering to a younger generation of sexually active people gaining awareness on this sensitive topic.

Overall, I think this organization does a great job of spreading information. The website is easy to navigate, which is great for someone like me with little technology abilities. This great nonprofit organization works to spread information on a personable easily accessible place and I think they have achieved that wonderfully.

Working to spread education on HIV/AIDS is critical to the understanding of this illness. It will help end the stigma associated with it and hopefully slow the rapid rate at which this virus is spread. While other organizations that work to make medicine and forms of protection readily available are incredibly useful, without the knowledge required on these topics the distribution would mean little to nothing.

Thanks for reading,

Chelsie

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