WORLD AIDS DAY: 1st December
One of the best known and most widely recognised global ‘health days’ is the annual UN World Aids Day. On 27th October 1988 during the early days of the Aids crisis, the United Nations General Assembly voted to officially recognise 1st December as the date designated for that year by The World Health Organisation as the first World Aids Day. This has become an annual observance ever since and whilst the focus of the day is still the awareness of health issues and campaigns, it now holds wider meaning. For some it is a day for promoting anti-discrimination efforts. For many others it has become a memorial day on which we remember those who have died of Aids-related conditions.
The well-known symbol for the day is the simple folded red ribbon. This iconic symbol was designed by an artists collective in New York in 1991 and has since become one of the most widely recognised campaign symbols. It has also inspired others such as the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness.
Of course the condition itself pre-dates all of this. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was first identified in 1981 as the condition caused by damage to the immune system by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The term ‘AIDS’ was first introduced in July 1982.
Over thirty years later we need this awareness-raising day more than ever. The W.H.O. set its aim for 2011-2015 as ‘Getting to Zero’ This includes zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination for sufferers and zero Aids-related deaths. We still have a very long way to go with all of these. The main W.H.O. focus for 2013 is improved awareness and support for adolescents (10-19). This includes improved access to education, information and support for our young people.
We cannot afford to be complacent about this issue: THERE IS NO VACCINE. THERE IS NO CURE. More people are living with Aids than ever before and the global statistics are staggering.
What of the UK? Early lessons learned and education given, appear to have been forgotten. In 2012 there were over 100,000 people living with the condition in the UK of which 25% were UNAWARE that they were infected. Also during last year, on average 8 gay men were diagnosed with the condition EVERY DAY. This is the highest recorded number for any single year. With unsafe sex practices increasing among the young and ‘barebacking’ almost becoming a fashion for many young men, it is no surprise that during 2012 the number of gay men under 25 being diagnosed was double the number for 2002
90% of all HIV infections are still sexually transmitted. The fact that a quarter of all infected people are unaware means that they run the risk of severe deterioration in their own health but they are also carriers risking infection for any or all of their partners. We need the focus which World Aids Day brings as much now as we did thirty years ago. There is NO excuse for not practising safe sex.
Wear a Red Ribbon on Sunday.
Please play safe always!
T.J. Masters is a fifty-six-year-old author and life coach living in Hertfordshire just to the north of London, England. T.J. has shared thirty years of suburban life with his civil partner Ian, and they enjoy the love and support of T.J’s large Irish family who all live nearby. In 2009 T.J. took early retirement from a thirty-three-year school teaching career and decided to follow a new path. After qualifying as a life coach, T.J. found that he was coaching a couple of authors who were going through the process of giving birth to the book which “had always been inside them.” This rekindled T.J’s long-held desire to write and get published.
With a lifelong passion for books, learning, and the sharing of knowledge, T.J. woke up to the realization that he had stories to tell, books to write, and less than half a lifetime left to do it in. As for the kind of books he is writing… well, let’s just say that he decided to channel over thirty years of experience in the gay BDSM lifestyle into a genre where it would be most appreciated!
Alongside this passion for books and writing, T.J. also found an outlet for his inner geek and has become a great advocate for social media in various forms. Blogging has become a great outlet for T.J’s many interests including the writerly ones. The author has a website where he blogs regularly and he loves to interact with his readers and followers at http://www.tjmasters.com.