On December 1, the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day will be marked around the globe. This annual observance highlights worldwide efforts to combat HIV and AIDS, shows support for those living with the virus, and remembers those who have passed away from the disease.
While significant progress has been made during the past 30 years in both the number of those living with the virus and leading healthy, productive lives and in the number of people who know their HIV status, we still have a lot of work to do. World AIDS Day is meant to remind the public and the government that HIV remains a problem and that complacency is our greatest threat to combating HIV.
Here at AIDS Resource (AR), we assist those who are currently living with HIV or AIDS in ten counties in North Central PA. For those living with HIV, social, economic and environmental barriers affect their access to treatment and care. Many face stigma, discrimination, and a lack of confidentiality in health-care settings and in their communities, which prevents them from seeking the care they desperately need.
Furthermore, the cost of the treatment can be prohibitive. At AR, our goal is to remove those barriers so our clients can receive the care and support they need to achieve optimal health and well-being.
AR also focuses upon increasing awareness about HIV prevention, raising much-needed funds, and offering free testing and treatment to the community.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15% of the population (or one in seven people) do not know their HIV status. Stigma remains a significant barrier to HIV prevention and testing. Fear of being judged or fear of the test results influence a person’s decision to get tested so AR offers a judgment-free environment for those seeking HIV, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea testing.
How can you unite in the fight against HIV and show your support for this cause in your own community?
Reach Out to Local Organizations
The easiest way to get involved is to get in touch with AIDS-service organizations and ask them where you can help.
They might need anything from volunteers for their events to people to handle some of their day-to-day operations. Let them know what your skills and availability are to see where you fit in best with their organization.
Become A Mentor
Another great place to get started with supporting those who are living with HIV or AIDS could be joining a local support group or even becoming a one-on-one mentor to help those who are newly diagnosed. You can do this by helping them to access health insurance, services or housing, or even by joining clinical trials. All of these can help someone who is newly diagnosed with HIV feel cared for and supported.
Outside of the service-specific ways that you can help, sometimes people just need a friend or someone who is willing to support them and listen to them when they need to talk.
Causes like this one are always in need of money to keep offering supportive services and to advance research for a cure and prevention. Donating money to any HIV-related cause is an important form of advocacy. You may choose to donate anonymously or choose to make a tax-deductible donation.
If donating directly isn’t something that you can do or you want to do more for the cause, consider organizing a fundraiser within your community. Want a quick and simple way to help? Organize a birthday fundraiser on Facebook with the proceeds going to an AIDS-related organization of your choice.
Spread the Word
The most important thing that you can do to support the fight against HIV is to spread the word to the people that you know.
If this means that you and your friends go and get HIV tested together to support one another, that’s great!
If this means that you share your positive or negative HIV status with people you know, that’s amazing because it helps to remove the stigma of disclosing your status.
If this means that you wear a red ribbon to show your support or purchase some items from an AIDS-related organization, then thank you.
To learn more about what World AIDS Day means, you can visit this link. To make a donation to support the fight against HIV, please visit this link and support AIDS Resource as we work in our community.