National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day

For my generation, AIDS and HIV were a part of life. The scare and fear were everywhere you looked. When I was a child the plague was just starting and from what you saw on television and other media, the HIV virus was a death sentence. Just when I hit my teenage years, the world had seen the loss of many important figures, from all walks of life. And through the years the list only grew bigger. Here some few names, the list is almost painful to read:  Freddy Mercury, Isaac Asimov, Eric “Eazy-E” Wright, Rock Hudson, Gil Scott-Heron, Anthony Perkins, Héctor Lavoe, Fela Kuti and Reinaldo Arenas.

I saw how at first patients of such deadly disease were ostracized by society because the illness they contracted. Then, things got way scarier when children, teenagers, all over the world began becoming ill. Then, Magic Johnson, one of my childhood heroes made the announcement that he was HIV positive. Right then and there, at the mere age of 12, I became aware of the serious threat the HIV virus was. Sexually transmitted diseases were a topic of discussion. I remember going to high school and having talks with people infected with the virus warn us and letting us know that it was up to us to help eradicate the plague. And humanize those victims of the disease.

Currently, and after many years and many casualties, we might be finally getting the upper hand. Once the world authorities realized that the best way to fight AIDs was by raising awareness, things began to change. They focused on the youth, and how the younger generations could definitely make an impact. While scientists and researchers raced for a cure, we were taught at schools of the real threat the HIV virus posed for each of us.

HIV and Aids are now fully treatable, and with current advancements a cure might be very close. But it is now that we are so close to the cure that we should not lose focus that there is still over 35 million people living with AIDS/HIV. The future generations need to be empowered and educated on this struggle; this fight can be won in our favor. 39% of new HIV infections are people under the age of 25. In America alone, from the entire population of sexually active high school students, 77% have never been tested for HIV. We must continue to promote testing on people of all ages and, raise awareness on the high importance of practicing safe sex.  

This year for National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (#NYHAAD), the overall theme is “Engaging Youth Voices in the HIV & AIDS Response”, several dedicated sites will try to reach out and create consciousness for HIV awareness. Also, many sites will provide services for outreach in different communities all across America. These organizations will urge people to get tested. Every 15 seconds a young person between the ages of 15 to 24 gets infected, the best weapon we have currently against AIDS/HIV is prevention. 

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