On 1st December each year, millions around the globe join the fight against HIV and AIDS. We strive to better educate ourselves and communities, support those affected by the virus, commemorate those who have died, and challenge the stigma.
What can I do?
- Get Educated
Education as the crux of prevention is nothing new, but it’s by no means obsolete. With HIV infection rates in Australia increasing, it has never been more important to brush up on the facts. Learning how exactly it can be passed on, how to protect yourself, and which people groups are most at risk are all steps we can take toward prevention. Sites like World AIDS Day Australia and Avert are great resources.
- Get tested
‘In theory, if we could find every person with HIV – every last person today in our country [...] and say, “start on treatment immediately”, we could stop this epidemic in its tracks.’ Justice Edwin Cameron (the guardian)
Getting tested for HIV is one of the best ways we can stop it, and is the only way one can tell if they have the virus. By getting tested, you’re not only clarifying your own status, but you’re telling others that it’s an important measure to take in the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
- Support the vulnerable
The presence of HIV and AIDS mirrors that of global inequality. It flourishes in places affected by poverty, inequality, conflict, and low-resources. It’s estimated that approximately 920,000 people have been infected in North America, 540,000 in Western Europe and another 15,000 in Australia and New Zealand. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, as many as 25.3 million persons have been infected by HIV. Another 5.8 million have been infected in South and Southeast Asia, and 1.4 million have been infected in Latin America.
Within these inequalities, the intersection of HIV/AIDS and gender inequality is well documented. Where the most vulnerable group used to be white gay men, poor women and girls of colour are increasingly bearing the brunt of the epidemic.
Their vulnerability relates to infection, the gendered personal and socio-economic impact of living with HIV or AIDS, and the huge burden of care that women in these societies inevitably face; not to mention the lack of both control over their own bodies, and government-funded education. It is clear that we cannot bring an end to AIDS if certain groups are left behind.
By supporting charities such as the Aids Trust of Australia and the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, volunteering, and engaging in the complex social and economic issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, you partake in an international conversation and encourage others to do the same.
Although we are not a charity, nor will the work you undertake on one of our overseas placements be aid work, you will learn a great deal about how HIV is treated locally, and the impact it has on developing communities.
Many of our students take their electives in countries where HIV is common, and are able to learn more about treatments while placed in specialist HIV clinics. You can read their stories here.