Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is simply means a virus that is acquired, primarily through unprotected vaginal or anal sex. Most people still think, “yeah that’s in Africa and in gay guys isn’t it?” Yet although AIDS is prevalent in, and often talked about in relation to the African region and in the homosexual community, it’s certainly not the fully story. There are many people who suffer in the United Kingdom, in fact 1/5 of those with HIV in the UK don’t know it.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the preceding infection that causes AIDS. AIDS is in a way the end-point of the disease where the immune system has been so destroyed even a common cold is hard to fight off effectively. What once was a deadly diagnosis is now thankfully well managed by tablets that combat the virus’ efforts to take over the world – the virus equivalent of ‘Pinky and the Brain’. There is no hiding the fact that it is less prevalent in the UK than in many other parts of the world, and treatment allows a life expectancy similar to not having HIV at all. That is not to discourage a fear you should have, as you do for the stranger under your bed at night when you need to go to the loo. Trivialising a huge world issue is foolish and deserves attention particularly as there is a chance that it could affect you.
Bored of with being told to put a sock on it? Just switch to a career in STI roulette and star in The Deer Hunter sequel. You might say, “but porn told me not to!” – if that is where you are getting your ideals on real life sex then I have some bad news: the world isn’t full of sperm-hungry women and men with 10-inchers. Sorry, dreams crushed?
When it comes to relationships, the same logic applies. You still need to remember to use a condom, or get tested before you make that kind of decision. If you have already had sex unprotected, everyone makes mistakes but it is a real fool that doesn’t learn from them. And for men who have sex with men, we are not forgetting you guys! All this applies to you too, except the uterus pregnancy thing of course, unless you got ideas from watching Arnie in ‘Twins’- because if Arnie can do it, we all can.
Look out for the World AIDS day (WAD) events that will run in the week of 2nd- 6th December in celebration of WAD on 1st December. The UK can also celebrate being one of the front runners in providing aid relief (pun intended) to the developing world desperately need the medicine that will save their life in countries where the health infrastructure is poor and does not provide contraception freely. Run the risk of HIV or be celibate for life? Now, that’s a hard choice. Help your fellow man by giving to a good cause and learn more about global health issues. Preventable death is a massive issue in the poorest parts of the world and we do have an obligation as a developed country to help others in need. So do without a coffee, a bar of chocolate or one fewer pints for the day and give the proceeds to help change the world for the better. The UK has already been the biggest pledger with £1bn to fight AIDS, TB and malaria in the developing world as a result of strong activism and campaigns. We are reaching a tipping point towards eradicating HIV in the world and we can’t stop now. Join the plight against AIDS in the 1st week of December with many events around campus that you can take part in.
Images from wikimedia.org.