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AIDS Awareness Red Ribbon


MEDIA FAILING IN AIDS FIGHT

by Bradford McIntyre

    A report released on Tuesday July 6th 2004 by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS said "prevention efforts reach one in five people worldwide".

Is it any wonder, that the HIV infection rates are higher than estimated when the average person has little knowledge of HIV and AIDS? Where is HIV education? HIV education is near to none existent! If you are an HIV+ individual or with an organization working to educate, then you may have a wealth of knowledge but still most people know very little. As an individual living with HIV and involved in creating HIV/AIDS awareness around the world, I constantly hear the many mis-conceptions people have about HIV and AIDS.

HIV needs to be in the media each and every day!

Talking about safe sex and the need to use a condom or providing condoms is not working! HIV is a global problem which demands attention yet those of us working tirelessly are unable to get articles or /letters published in newspapers, events covered, or messages conveyed to help educate the public. Snippets of news and safe sex commercials are not effective enough. The time the media gives to HIV/AIDS coverage is that of news covering a new drug or conference or a statistic. More familiar, media coverage of the sick! The media has fallen short in reaching people globally. Misconceptions continue.

How can there be any real understanding about HIV/AIDS and HIV prevention, without the necessary information reported?

People believe HIV infection will never happen to them and many still associate HIV/AIDS with gay people. Yet men, women and children of every race and religious or spiritual belief are being infected with HIV every day, all over the world! Even the Vatican continues to oppose condom use to fight AIDS while HIV infection escalates!

People who engage in unprotected sex risk infecting themselves and others. By NOT practicing safe sex, they are at greater risk of being infected with multiple strains and causing progression to disease. Unprotected sex puts individuals at risk of not only contracting HIV but of being resistance to all the drugs the infected individual has taken.

The heterosexual community is not practicing safe sex, which is evident in the statistics of HIV infection amongst heterosexuals worldwide. Studies show that anal sex is common throughout the world and in some countries 60% of adults practice anal sex. Women in the United States are reported to be seven times more likely to engage in unprotected anal sex, than men having sex with men. Condom usage is lower for heterosexual anal sex compared to vaginal sex. Many men who have sex with men do not define themselves as gay. More and more women are being infected with HIV through sexual intercourse with their male partner, unaware their partner is bisexual! In heterosexual relationships, infidelity is also responsible for increases in HIV infection among women.

With antiretroviral therapies and fewer deaths associated with these treatments, many gay people have discontinued safe sex practices. HIV infection is not disclosed to partners and anal sex without a condom is increasing at alarming rates. So now HIV infection is on the rise again amongst gay people.

People think because we have antiretroviral therapies there is no need to practice safe sex or worry. There is no guarantee these medications will work on everyone! One out of every 10 Europeans newly infected with HIV has a drug-resistant strain of the virus according to a study released at the 2003 International AIDS Society's 2nd Conference, on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment, held in Paris. Multiple sex partners mean multiple infections can occur with the likelihood of infection with more than one HIV strain. This places an individual in greater danger of illness and or death as well as any person they infect. Some strains of HIV have been shown to cause illness and death rapidly regardless of immune status. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated 170 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C. Being infected with HIV may also include being infected with Hepatitis C along with other sexually transmitted diseases such as; syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, human papilloma virus (HPV,herpes simplex virus (HSV), and hepatitis A, B, and/or C.

Even though the numbers of AIDS cases in poorer regions are growing rapidly, the problem with HIV is worldwide; people everywhere need to be aware they are at risk of infection if they have unprotected sex!

This is the kind of information that every single person needs to be aware of if we are to stop the spread of HIV!

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copyright © Bradford McIntyre


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