“One life”: HIV-AIDS Public Awareness

“One life”: HIV-AIDS public awareness
by Diane Walsh
To many people, in our society, the understanding of HIV AIDS, as a disease, is limited to association with gay men and needle using drug addicts. It remains a disease where the victim is always at fault.

This uninformed but sadly ubiquitous view is dangerous to all. Any of us can become infected. We don’t have to be a gay male or an intravenous drug user. HIV does not choose to infect by assessing the sexual orientation of an individual. The virus finds a home wherever it is admitted.  It can be comfortable in any human being.

So, what’s to be done? A start is to recognize who is at risk.

Sociologically we tend to identity people as members of groups.  The question we need to be asking is, what group of people is the next largest ‘at risk’ group? The latest and most accurate research tells us the most ‘at risk’ group for contracting HIV is women. No special varieties of women – that is – nothing to do with sexual orientation, religion, etc.

“Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. Women of color are especially affected by HIV infection and AIDS.  In 2004 (the most recent year for which data are available), HIV infection was the leading cause of death for black women aged 25–34 years” (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/women/resources/factsheets/women.htm). Furthermore, US studies also tell us that women–patients who have HIV are under managed.  It’s not difficult to imagine the forces that place women particularly at risk.

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