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Apr
05

Bring on the April showers! I wrote about 10 Stylish Items That’ll Keep You Dry in a Downpour for USA Today 10Best. Bet you’ll especially love the cute boots and the heart-shaped umbrella!

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national hiv/aids and aging awareness day

National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day

Thanks to Let's Stop HIV Together for sponsoring this important
conversation. All opinions are, as always, 100% mine.

Tomorrow is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, and I hope you’ll help me spread the word and end the stigma.

I’ve never understood why there would be any kind of stigma associated with HIV in the first place. People who are dealing with HIV shouldn’t have to worry about others’ reactions. They need support and they need to be able to talk about how they’re feeling. And they need to seek treatment.

This is especially important for our age group because, although the overall infection rate has decreased in the US, there is a significant risk to people over 50. However, they are less likely to get tested and, as a result, are subject to higher mortality rates than their younger counterparts.

As we all know, midlife doesn’t mean the end of sex. So many people are out there dating and, unfortunately, they often forget that HIV is not a thing of the past. They don’t use protection and older women, in particular, may be even more at risk due to age-related thinning and drying of vaginal tissue.

Yet, they don’t even consider getting tested because they just don’t see the point at their age. But a positive diagnosis is no longer a death sentence, and people can live healthy, fulfilling lives with the proper treatment.

For example, check out Theresa’s story, below. She’s a mother and a grandmother and she could be your friend. She could be you.

The stigma associated with HIV is one of the biggest reasons for low testing rates within this age group. Stigma leads to marginalization of those who test positive, which results in decreased testing due to the fear of a positive diagnosis, fear of disclosing status and getting treatment, and fewer conversations about safe sex.

It’s time to change that.

There are some simple but meaningful actions you can take to decrease stigma and let people know that HIV is nothing to be ashamed about.

The Center for Disease Control has put together A Guide to Talking About HIV, which is a fantastic resource that reveals the power of words. For example, instead of using language like “victims” or “patients,” use “People living with HIV.” Instead of using a general term like “body fluids,” be very specific and factual.

You can also learn more with the Let’s Stop HIV Together Stigma Fact Sheet. It busts myths like HIV is spread through hugging or shaking hands with someone who is HIV positive — it’s NOT. Or that you can get HIV by consuming food handled by a person who is infected with HIV — you CAN’T.

I know how compassionate all of you are, and I hope you’ll all take a minute to raise awareness and help stand up against stigma by tweeting this:

Please encourage your friends to get involved too. Use hashtags #StopHIVTogether and #StopHIVStigma, and follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Let’s get rid of the stigma not just on National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day but for good.

Comments

  1. That’s so true about remembering that HIV is still a very current disease. Even for those of us who are older. I remember when it first became a thing in the 80s. But I haven’t given a lot of thought to it in recent years. Thanks for spreading the awareness.

  2. Yes, HIV is still there but its more like an issue in the less developed countries. But its an issue nevertheless. Thanks for bring it back to the attention.

  3. It’s great that campaigns like this are keeping a light shone on such an important issue.

  4. My God died of HIV about 5 years ago, so I will never stop raising awareness. Ever year I do the NYC Aids Walk and hope that I help motivate people (especially young ones) to practice safe sex and get tested. Thank You so much for raising awareness.

  5. This is very true. The stigma has got to come to an end because there are plenty of people others wouldn’t “expect” living with HIV/AIDS. I am sharing your post.

  6. Such a important article. HIV is real and so many people and their loved ones are suffering. So sad when it becomes AIDS, it is debilitating.

  7. It is something that’s not spoken about nearly enough. Especially in this age of little blue pills.

  8. Really important information Lois. Will be sharing. Stigma is so difficult to confront, but the more we do it, the more people will see help and appropriate treatment.

  9. I spent a dozen years as an emotional support volunteer for an AIDS/HIV organization in the Bay area, starting back in ’88 when it was pretty much a death sentence. A lot has changed since then, and I’m glad of it. The conversation must continue, though.

  10. It is so important to have awareness for this!

  11. These are excellent awareness days to partner together as the aging and those affected with HIV need support. Excellent post!

  12. Wow! Great reminder, Lois! Thank you, thank you for this. My first husband died when I was 37. When I finally started dating again, I was tested and had the men tested. My second husband died almost six years ago. While there isn’t anyone on my radar screen, I’m not ruling out the possibility of dating in the future, so I need to remember our age group can and does become HIV+. Brenda

  13. Thank you for posting on this very important issue! In today’s world it is so easy to forget the actual person that exists behind an issue. It is so true that the stigma that still exists leads to less testing because nobody wants to be ostracized.

  14. Look at Magic Johnston! He has been around forever since his diagnosis of HIV positive. No, it is no longer a death sentence!

  15. CourtneyLynne says:

    You are right. The stigma must end!!!! Thankfully we are getting better but we still have a long way to go!

  16. Thanks for highlighting this. It still hurts me to see and hear people stigmatize persons with HIV. If we can all just get educated some more on the issue.

  17. Very useful post.Until we talk about it the stigma will stay.We need safe sex always

  18. This post hit me very personally as a family member was a victim of a tainted blood transfusion and has been required to live with this ailment for over 30 years. It is such an important cause to continue awareness for future generations to keep cautious. I gladly support initiatives for cures and awareness here in Toronto. Thanks for posting this.

  19. Good article and deff will tell them to use these hashtags when tweeting. Thanks for the input.

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