World AIDS Day: Support people living with HIV
Today we are using our chance to stand with the worldwide LGBTIQ+ community and their fight against HIV/Aids. In the time of a worldwide pandemic, it is important to remember the deadly virus and its impact especially, but not only to gay men. The virus and the disease have badly affected the community of especially gay men in the past and even today being diagnosed as HIV-positive still comes with a stigma.
That is why we would like to use today’s opportunity to share knowledge about this important topic, help to create awareness, and show our support. Because, even though luckily nowadays there are HIV treatments, the virus has not disappeared and in many parts of the world still threatens people’s lives. Couple of Men reporter Sarah had the chance to talk to Chris Vincent, HIV and Aids activist from Denmark sharing the latest information and update for World Aids Day 2020.
What is World AIDS Day?
The 1st of December is the official World AIDS Day since 1988 to create awareness, allow people to gather worldwide, and to unite their forces in their fight against HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, it is the annual day to show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Many organizations worldwide use this day to educate people about safe sex, HIV treatments, as well as discrimination against HIV-positive people, and the current progress in science.
The Red Ribbon – World AIDS Day 2020
You probably already saw people wearing a red ribbon on their chest walking on the street in the past couple of days – be as a red ribbon pin or a self-made ribbon. But what does that mean? The red ribbon dates back to the early 1990ies about a decade after HIV started to spread among the gay community. Therefore, twelve artists from the Visual AIDS Artists’ Caucus joined forces in New York City’s East Village to look for a way to visually express support for people living with HIV.
Inspired by the yellow ribbons that showed support for the US military fighting in the Gulf War, they decided to create a red version titled “The Ribbon Project“. It was decided to go for the color red – no pink, no rainbow – since HIV and Aids are relevant to everyone, not only to the LGBTQ+ community. Over the years, the red ribbon became one of the most recognized symbols. People, like us, are wearing it especially on and around World AIDS Day to signify awareness and support for people living with HIV.
By sharing their stories, we get to understand the daily lives of couples that are running a business together, that are activists for freedom and equality together, that are facing everyday problems together or that simply are what they actually are, two people in love. We want them to be seen – by sharing their stories.
What Are HIV and AIDS?
HIV is a virus that attacks human cells that usually help the body fighting infections. Being HIV-positive means the body is more to infections and diseases. The virus gets transmitted by contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV, most commonly during unprotected sex (sex without a condom or HIV medicine to prevent or treat HIV), or through sharing injection drug equipment. If left untreated HIV can lead to the disease of AIDS. More information here >
How many people are infected worldwide?
Currently, 38 Million people are living with HIV worldwide. 67 percent of them have access to the needed medication – which means in return, almost a third of them do not have access to the medication they need. In 2018 690.000 worldwide have died from AIDS. Since the beginning of the epidemic in the late 1970s, early 1980s more than 32 million people worldwide have lost their lives to it. Areas that are currently strongly affected by HIV/AIDS are countries in southern Africa as well as East Europe and Central Asia.
The Danish LGBT activist Chris Vincent was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 2014. Since then he has taken part in different campaigns to spread knowledge and awareness for HIV/AIDS and has founded an NGO himself. For Couple of Men, he talks about misconceptions, dating as a “pos” man, and worldwide access to HIV medication.
Is there an HIV treatment?
Yes, there is. In Germany, for example, 93 percent of the people that are diagnosed to be HIV-positive frequently take HIV medication. Thanks to medication people who are HIV-positive become undetectable which means the virus is no longer transmittable. However, Corona pandemic also negatively affects the availability of HIV medication in many countries. WHO fact sheet on HIV/AIDS with key facts and information >
World AIDS Day 2020: What needs to be achieved?
Everybody all around the globe who is HIV-negative needs to be granted sufficient access to information about safe sex as well as access to condoms etc. Everybody who is HIV-positive needs to be granted medical treatment and support. Furthermore, it is crucial to break the taboos around the topic of HIV/AIDS and to openly talk about it. Another worldwide effort is to make people understand “U=U”, Undetectable = Untransmittable. Because information is key!
Wanna know more about our gay travels around the world? Stay tuned on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. See you again during a pride parade or LGBTQ+ festival somewhere around the world!
Karl & Daan.
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