25 years of World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is 25 years old today. And for as long as I’ve been aware of its existence, December 1st is always a day that gives me pause to think. HIV/AIDS was still a new and terrifying danger when I was born, which was just two years after the first World AIDS Day.

The year before the first one, AZT (azidothymidine)had just been approved for treating HIV – all I’ve heard about AZT was that it was almost as much of a death sentence as the disease it was meant to treat back then.

25 years later and it seems we need this day more than ever. Although we now have the means and understanding to treat the disease so that people with HIV can now live as long as people without HIV, infections are on the rise – in quite a big way.

Not only that, but there are a shocking amount of people who still believe in the same old HIV myths we used to believe in.

That’s terrifying. It’s terrifying because it’s those same myths that I used to believe in – before I’d even had any education on the subject. The only thing I knew was that it was named AIDS and that it would kill you if you had it. It’s the mark of growing up in the early years of the disease: no-one had a clue, everyone was scared. Or so it seemed to me.

I learned, eventually, that myths are just that – stories that were passed around in the heat of panic and that people accepted as truth. I learned that through two people, who I met about a decade apart.

One was a girl who lived in a house down the road from the care home I resided in. She was one of the loveliest girls I’d ever met – and her HIV status was of no matter. She was lovely and kind and adorable… but 11-year-old me was still stand-offish. I really wish I hadn’t been, knowing what I know about HIV/AIDS now.

The other was a lad I met not long after I started this blog. He’d gotten his diagnosis earlier that year, and had started a blog because he wanted to help other people accept their own diagnosis.

I don’t know what happened to that girl from over a decade ago… I hope she’s alright. I hope she’s alive. I hope she knows just how much she’s done for me.

But that lad… he turned out alright, considering he’s now a well-known activist. His name’s Tom, and he’s the editor-in-chief of beyondpositive, a website that aims to be a resource for not just people with a positive status, but their friends, family and partners as well.

I think that if I hadn’t met Tom, I’d still be an incredible dunce on the matter. Following his blog, his writing and the good he’s done for so many people has educated me as well. So, Tom… if you read this, I hope you know how much good you’ve done for me too.

Right! So, apologies if this post seems a bit scattered. But to finish off, here are some links that might be of use on this day and beyond.

– If you need to find a local Sexual Health Clinic so you can get tested, the Terrence Higgins Trust Clinic Finder can help.

The National AIDS Trust website is a great resource. See if you can get involved in supporting them.

– If you need someone to talk to, desperately, contact The Samaritans. They won’t discriminate – they’ll just listen to whatever’s on your mind. And take it from me, that alone can do you a world of good.

– Safe sex! Buy condoms from the Freedoms Shop – an NHS sexual health promotion initiative.

– Donate to beyondpositive. As it says on the donation page: it takes a lot of time and money to keep it going. As Editor-in-Chief, Tom does most of the work (as a full-time job), but it is entirely unpaid. So your donation would make a difference.

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