The first time the Human Immune Virus (HIV) affected someone I knew was during my college sophomore year. I had just finished class for the day when I received a frantic phone call from my friend telling me he had just been diagnosed with HIV. After a few seconds of silence, he started sobbing uncontrollably and told me that he “didn’t want to die.” He said this several times during our call. I would spend the next three hours reassuring him that everything was going to be alright. Once we got off the phone, I started to learn everything I needed to know about HIV and what I could do to help my friend during this difficult time.
If American society wants to mitigate the negative impacts of HIV, then it needs all stakeholders to participate and facilitate an open dialogue about how to address HIV — and that includes the U.S. military.
Looking back six years later, it amazes me how little we both knew about HIV. Neither of us were informed about the preventative measures that existed, nor did we know how far medical treatment had come in the past two decades. Unfortunately, this is a common problem in American society. In 2019, a survey found that 27% of Americans were aware that antiretroviral therapy (ART) is highly effective in improving the health of HIV-positive individuals. Additionally, in this same survey only 42% of Americans knew about preventative medications for HIV-negative individuals. These results indicate that a lot of work remains to be done to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV and improve public awareness about the medical and preventative methods that are available.
Read the full article from Inkstick.
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