If you’re living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), you’re already aware of the impact the condition can have on your life — but chances are strong that other people in your orbit don’t know as much as they could about the disease. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness for the medical condition — particularly in December, which is HIV Awareness Month.
World AIDS Day, on Dec. 1, was the first-ever globally recognized health day. It was established in 1988.
Raising awareness doesn’t just help other people understand your condition. Members of myHIVteam have found that gaining more knowledge about the condition helps them make more informed decisions about treatments and strengthens their feelings of self-reliance.
If you’d like to get involved in increasing awareness about HIV, consider taking a few important steps.
Before you can create public awareness by sharing information with others, it’s a good idea to understand the specifics about HIV. Learn more about HIV’s causes, signs and symptoms, and treatment options.
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. If HIV is not treated, within a few years it can progress and lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), a set of symptoms and infections that can eventually cause death. Although HIV is not yet curable, it is very treatable. Getting proper treatment consistently and leading a healthy lifestyle enables most people with HIV to live a normal life span.
AIDS was identified in the United States in 1981, although it was not well understood at the time. Doctors scrambled to figure out how AIDS was spread and how to stop it. It would take years to piece together that HIV infection leads to AIDS, and many more years to undo the myth that HIV could only affect gay men.
After you’re armed with information about HIV prevention, testing, and treatment, you can share it with others. The fastest and least expensive way for this kind of advocacy is through social media. You can post information about HIV, share details about the condition, and join communities of other people who are also working to raise awareness about HIV.
You can share the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) premade tweet or Facebook post and check out these other social media resources and graphics. You can also share a fact sheet with statistics about HIV and AIDS around the world.
Additionally, to ensure your messages on social media reach as many people as possible, consider using an appropriate HIV-related hashtag, like #WorldAIDSDay, #WAD2021, and #StopHIVTogether. This way, your posts will be seen by more people who have the same interests, and they’re more likely to share and comment.
Social media helps raise awareness for the condition, and it also allows other people with HIV to realize they aren’t alone. Joining an HIV community on social media, such as myHIVteam, can also help you connect with others.
Another way to raise awareness about HIV is to participate in an activity dedicated to the cause. You can walk or run for HIV, play bingo, participate in fundraising activities, or even create a unique event that works for your interests. You can help other people understand more about HIV while having fun and raising money for the cause.
In addition, remember to engage in self-care. It is emotionally taxing to educate others about your lived experiences, so know your limits and accept when to put your mental well-being first.
On myHIVteam, more than 32,000 people living with HIV come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with the condition.
Share your HIV journey in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.