By Sofy Maxman, EI Blogger

World AIDS Day takes place on the first of December each year. Its purpose is multifold: to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness or complication; to show support for those currently living with HIV or AIDS; and to globally unite in fighting HIV/AIDS. It is a day that gives everyone the opportunity to show their support for the estimated 36.7 million people living with the HIV virus globally (worldaidsday.org) and to recognize both how far we have come since when the virus was first identified, and still yet how far we have to go both in treating and fighting the virus, and destigmatizing it.

It is important to recognize and talk about older folks living with an HIV/AIDS diagnosis. According to the CDC, people age 55 and older are more likely than younger people to not be diagnosed until their infection has already progressed to an AIDS diagnosis (cdc.gov). Had these folks been diagnosed sooner, the necessary precautions could have been taken to prevent the virus from progressing, and hopefully prevent more threatening immune-system damages. Older adults living with HIV are presented with difficulties when also dealing with other diseases or illnesses, which makes managing both all the more complicated. The mixing of medications can lead to further ailments, and it is important to be aware of how HIV medication mixes with others that doctors may be prescribing.

Since the inception of World AIDS Day, each year has been given a theme. Some from years past include: “Getting to Zero” (2011), “Women, Girls, HIV and AIDS” (2004), and “Discrimination and Stigma” (2002-03). This year’s theme is “My health, My right.” This theme encompasses the right of everyone to be given the highest standards of health care, without facing discrimination. Fair and proper health care must be accessible for every citizen, as must the right to access this care without fear or threat of discrimination. This is a constant barrier for folks living with HIV/AIDS and must be addressed.

There is a lot still to be done in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Huge strides have been made, and huge strides are to come. For more information on World AIDS Day, see the following:

http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/pressreleaseandstatementarchive/2017/november/20171106_myhealth-myright

https://fight.org

https://www.cdc.gov/features/worldaidsday/index.html

https://www.worldaidsday.org/about