There are a lot of myths out there about HIV. One is that any kind of physical contact with someone who has HIV or AIDS will cause you to be infected. Another one is that only gay people can get HIV. For anyone who believes this or any others like it, let me tell you now that a lot of them are not true. There are a few different ways to get it. A lot of people get it by having unprotected sex with someone who already has the virus. It can also be caught by using a needle that was used by someone who already has the virus. Children who are born to a mother who has it or are being breast-fed by someone who has it will also get the virus.
I havenít known for all that long about this and there arenít many people I really trust, so I havenít told anyone about my HIV. The only people who know are my family, my doctors, and people at Camp Kindle. Thatís why Iím writing this article under a pseudonym. Since only a few people know about it, Iíve never had to personally deal with discrimination, however, Iíve heard stories of people discriminating against other people with the virus. An example of this is when a school in Pennsylvania denied admission to a kid because he was HIV positive.
At this point, I bet youíre wondering what the point of this article is. The point is that there are many myths out there about HIV and AIDS and there are a lot of people who believe them, so Iím hoping that by reading my story you realize that not everything that people say about them is the real and whole truth.
For me, being HIV positive hasnít been all that bad. I really havenít had it all that hard since it isnít public information and Iíve only had one major health issue that this virus has made worse than it should have been. I do know of people who have had a tough life because of HIV or AIDS, whether itís because of discrimination, or because of health complications that were made worse by the virus.
Studies have shown that the percentage of women in South Africa who pass on the virus to their children has gone down. This is because for the past couple years, South Africans have been investing in ways to fight HIV and AIDS. In fact, 95 percent of the women there are now getting the antiretroviral treatment they need to protect their children. Also, the number of new infections that occurred between 2001 and 2009 dropped by 22 percent. It seems like things in South Africa, as far as preventing HIV and AIDS go, are improving. Unfortunately, the same canít be said for women here in America.
According to a team of US AIDS experts, the yearly number of new HIV cases among black women in Baltimore and some other major US cities is five times higher than originally thought. As a matter of fact, a recent study has shown that the HIV rate among black women in some cities here in the US is as bad as some countries in Africa. Itís unfortunate and sad that HIV is as bad as it is here in America, especially since weíve always been the more developed country. I also feel sad for the children out there who will have the virus and will have to deal with the problems that come with it.
I am one of the 1.1 million people infected with HIV in the US, and one of Fresno Countyís 1,908 total reported cases of HIV. As of March 2011, adolescents between the ages of 15 and 24 years in Fresno County accounted for nearly 20 percent of all HIV cases in the county. Iím one of those adolescents. In 2010, Fresnoís only AIDS clinic closed due to lack of funding. HIV among teens in Fresno canít be ignored, but according to a recent NPR poll, young people donít think having HIV is a big deal. HIV shouldnít be taken lightly, but people should also be careful about spreading harmful stereotypes about the virus.
*In order to protect his privacy the author is using a pseudonym.
This post was originally published by New America Media.
Photo from New America Media
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