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World AIDS day - 30th anniversary.  [message #75254] Sat, 01 December 2018 11:20
NW is currently offline  NW

On fire!
Location: Worcester, England
Registered: January 2005
Messages: 1560

World AIDS Day was introduced in 1988, thirty years ago. We've seen massive changes in that time! Indeed, many consultants here in the UK don't use the term "AIDS" any longer, but refer to stages of HIV infection.

Things to be grateful for:
  • HIV infection is not curable, but with proper treatment there's no reason for it to restrict or shorten anyone's lifespan.
  • With effective antiretroviral treatment it's possible the level of virus in someone's body will go so low it becomes 'undetectable'. If this is confirmed by their healthcare professional it means they can no longer pass on HIV through sex. Straight couples can safely try to have kids, for example.
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) - taking medication routinely before having sex - almost completely prevents the possibility of catching the virus. In the UK, the NHS is dragging its feet over making this available, but organisations exist to help people safely buy decent product over the internet.
  • Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) - if a condom bursts, or someone has had impulse unsafe sex, PEP within 36 hours of possible exposure massively reduces the chances of catching the virus.

Given all of these, especially PrEP, the rate of new HIV infections in the UK is falling (in London, falling very steeply). Sadly, the situation in many other countries is not as good, though it's in general improving.

On the down side, I remember far too many lovely guys - friends, colleagues, schoolmates, and a lover - who died from the disease before we had our current understanding and drug arsenal. I seek to honour them in the best way that I can, and one way in which I can do that is to minimise my own risk of catching HIV, or passing it on if I should happen to do so. For anyone sexually active (with the possible exception of long-term monogamous relationships with a very trusted partner), that means regular testing, so you know your status and can seek treatment if needed. My last partner was HIV+, and as well as regular testing while with him, I had (negative) tests six, twelve, and eighteen months after we split up. I haven't had sex since him, so no current need for tests!


[Updated on: Sat, 01 December 2018 11:21]

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