Today is World AIDS Day.
To mark the occasion, put aside 20 minutes to read through the HIV Aware website. Even if you think you know everything already, there is always something to learn. For example, I hadn’t a clue that anyone had ever suggested fish pedicures might transmit HIV in the first place – but I learned that it’s not true anyway.
If you browse around the site, you’ll realise how our benefits, criminal justice and immigration systems make life much more difficult for people living with HIV. It’s awful to think that people who have been medically advised not to work are having their benefits taken off them, even if they are approaching retirement age.
There’s another section where people explain about the stigma they still face, the uncertainty about the reaction they’ll get from telling even close friends, the ostracisation from family. You would hope that there would be a lot less ill-informed prejudice by now – but it still seems that there is a job of education to be done.
Once you’ve read, why not act:
There are a number of things you can do, from baking to raise money to writing to your MP to ask him to sign the excellent Julian Huppert’s Parliamentary EDM (bit like a petition for MPs) on World AIDS Day and the need to develop a strategy to deal with HIV stigmatisation, to just talking to people. I’ve spent some time talking to Anna about issues around HIV today and showing her the site. The better informed young people are, the less likely prejudice is to hang around the next generation.
I won’t keep you any longer – but do spend some time learning more about HIV and taking action in some way to help people with the condition.