23rd World AIDS Day – what can you

Windhoek – With less than a week to go before we commemorate the 23rd World AIDS Day, the thought of what each of us can do about the pandemic should be at the fore.
AIDS has been around for as long as many people who are alive today can remember, and longer.
And it’s these commemorations that remind us that the fight is on and we all have a part to play in the road towards an HIV-free generation.
We are all affected (though differently) by the pandemic – directly for some and indirectly for others.
Whichever one it may be, HIV and AIDS affect us all.
World AIDS Day was first commemorated on December 1, 1988.
It is about raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. World AIDS Day is important for reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.
According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.3 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children.
During 2009 some 2.6 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 1.8 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses.
We have heard time and again that: “The vast majority of people with HIV and/or AIDS live in low and middle-income countries.”
Sadly this is the part of the world we occupy and as much as we may hate all this strong, negative and big statistics that make up our HIV rates and statistics this is our reality.
The theme for World AIDS Day 2011 is “Getting to Zero”.
After 30 years of the global fight against HIV and AIDS, this year the global community has committed to focusing on achieving three targets: Zero new HIV infections; Zero discrimination; and Zero AIDS-related deaths.
In 2011 people living with HIV were still subject to restrictions on their travel and/or stay in 47 countries, territories and areas.
Today HIV and AIDS are a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world.
So what can you do about it?
Of course nothing you have never heard of so here is a reminder to what may have been said so much that you may have forgotten.
For one, on that day you can wear a red ribbon, an international symbol of AIDS awareness that is worn by people all year round and particularly around World AIDS Day to demonstrate care and concern about HIV and AIDS, and to remind others of the need for their support and commitment.
You can also start by living faithfully with one sexual partner and/or using condoms correctly and consistently.
We are approaching the festive season and it is at this time of the year where people tend to party a lot and these parties have a whole lot of alcohol intake.
We know alcohol excessive intake is notorious for some bad decisions.
People end up having sexual encounters with strangers they meet at bars and parties.
More so, they can be inclined to forgo use of protection in these liaisons.
So another thing you can do to contribute to “zero new infections” is to drink responsibly and act responsibly when at social gatherings.
Getting tested is a bold step forward as the results may change one’s life.
It is therefore a step you can take on World AIDS day and beyond.

November 2011
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