What you need to know?
by Bradford McIntyre
Twenty three years since I first began
to witness the horrific illnesses and deaths caused by HIV and still today, very few people have an understanding
of HIV. The world population is ignorant about HIV! We have failed
to properly educate the world on HIV. Efforts to address HIV prevention
have failed miserably. In fact, in many parts of the world HIV
infection, stigma and discrimination have never been as bad as
it is today!
There has been insufficient time or attention given
to the dispersal of proper information regarding HIV and AIDS
and HIV prevention. 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!
- An HIV infection may cause one illness after another
and a lifetime of concern for you, and you're family and friends!
- 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.
In the early years we didn't know any better and
people who were infected assumed it didn't matter if they had
unprotected sex with someone else who was HIV positive. Now we
know; not only did people become infected with other strains of
HIV but an infected individual may develop resistance to all the
drugs taken by the person who infected them with the disease.(Drug-resistant
strain of the virus) Often leaving a person without treatment
- One out of every 10 Europeans newly infected with
HIV has a drug-resistant strain of the virus.
- People think because we have successful antiretroviral
therapies there is no need to practice safe sex or worry. They
need to be aware of the risks involved and know there is no guarantee
these medications will work for them!
- A person may not be able to tolerate the HIV/AIDS
medications. Suffering from the side effects of the drugs and
having to stop taking the medication; may put them at even greater
risk of opportunistic infections, cancers and death.
- Some strains of HIV have been shown to cause illness
and death rapidly regardless of immune status.
- We didn't realize the prevalence of other STD
infections when infected with HIV. Being infected with HIV may
also include being infected with syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia,
human papilloma virus (HPV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), and hepatitis
A, B, and C, and others!
-In the United States, there are 980,000 people
living with HIV/AIDS and 45,000 newly infected.
-In Canada, 56,000 people are infected with HIV.
The rates of infection among our aboriginal population in Canada
are reported to rival the worst hit areas of Africa! HIV infection
among aboriginal people is twice the rate of infection in non-aboriginal
- Seventy five percent of the world population infected
with HIV is heterosexual.
- Fifty percent of all HIV infections are women.
The proportion of adults living with HIV/AIDS who are women has
been steadily increasing. AIDS now ranks as one of the leading
causes of death among women aged 20 to 40 in several cities in
Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and North America!
- Studies show that anal sex is common throughout
the world and in some countries 60% of adults practice anal sex.
- 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
- In heterosexual relationships, infidelity is also
responsible for increases in HIV infection among women.
- Everyday, 6,000 individuals between the ages of
14 and 24 are infected with HIV.
- There is the perception that if you are infected,
HIV is manageable. It involves management of your health through
doctors' appointments, hospital visits for blood work and appointments
at hospital pharmacies to pick up your necessary HIV/AIDS medications.
You must manage the side effects of the drugs and drug resistance.
There are the demands of managing to overcome each opportunistic
infection. All of these are essential to manage to stay alive!
This is the kind of information that everyone needs
to know if HIV infections/transmissions are to be prevented. Each
person understanding and taking responsibility for their own lives
and the lives of others! 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!
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.
HIV infection does not occur without an opportunity!
HIV can be stopped, but without more public awareness of the risks
involved, safe sex practices (CONDOMS!) and the realities of people
living with HIV, the numbers of infections will continue to grow
and more lives devastated!
This awareness cannot be provided by AIDS organizations
alone! Government and the media need to play a more active role
in HIV prevention. There has been insufficient time or attention
given to the dispersal of proper information through the media
regarding HIV and AIDS and HIV prevention. HIV and AIDS have not
been made visible and clear to all. The truth about HIV infection
needs to be told!
HIV needs to be in the media each and every day!
Vancouver, BC, Canada
copyright © Bradford McIntyre