World AIDS Day is the day where, all over the globe, we remember those we’ve lost to AIDS. We also celebrate the progress made in fighting the epidemic. There is still no cure for AIDS, but HIV can be managed by prevention and early treatment.
One of the things that make HIV so difficult to control is that people are afraid to get tested. This means many people are spreading the virus without knowing it. Sure, it is scary to take that test. But sometimes courage is more important than hiding away.
People are scared to get tested because:
- They think being positive is a death sentence. This is not true. With the right treatment, HIV is a manageable condition.
- They are scared that if they are positive they may have infected others.
- It’s a sexually transmitted disease, which makes it seem shameful to have been infected.
- Because it’s sexually transmitted, many people believe that if you are positive, you chose or “deserve” it for having had sex. Which is totally untrue! It’s a sickness like many others, not a punishment.
HIV is not a death sentence if you get tested and treat it. With a healthy lifestyle and ARVs (medication for HIV) you can live a long life. When you feel ready, talk to someone you trust who can give you support like a family member, friend, counsellor, doctor or traditional healer.