Pride Palace community, today we honor yet another awareness day; and this is a big one. The National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) is honored annually on April 10th as a way to educate society about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people. The day is also observed to highlight HIV prevention, treatment, and care campaigns for youth across the United States. Here’s what you need to know:
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, children and young adults with HIV are the least likely of any age group to be retained in care and have a suppressed viral load. In other words, they don’t always receive the medical and social attention that they may need to recover or cope.
In 2018, people of ages 13 to 24 made up 21% of the new HIV diagnoses in the United States. This means that about ⅕ of those affected with HIV in the U.S. are children and young adults, and, unfortunately, they don’t always receive the care necessary. This is highly due to a lack of information and awareness. Addressing HIV in young people requires that the youth have access to the resources they need to make healthy decisions and reduce their risk for getting HIV. The more education and exposure to resources, the better.
To grow on this education, we decided to clarify a huge misconception and confusion:
What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
Are they the same thing? The short answer is no, they are not the same thing. According to Healthline, they are different diagnoses, but they do go hand-in-hand. HIV, standing for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that can lead to a condition called AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, also known as stage 3 HIV.
While HIV is a virus that may cause an infection, AIDS is a condition. Contracting HIV can lead to the development of AIDS. AIDS, a complex condition with symptoms that vary from person to person, develops when HIV has caused serious damage to the immune system. If you have HIV, you may not have AIDS. However, if you have AIDS, you have HIV (stage 3 HIV).
The CDC offers numerous resources for anyone who feels they may have contracted HIV or AIDS, or for anyone who just wants to learn. The Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign offers numerous resources such as information on HIV Testing, prevention, treatment, and stigma. If you know anyone who may benefit from these and more resources, don’t be afraid to share.
The stigma around HIV and AIDS, especially in youth, can be very negative and hurtful. This needs to stop. Anyone who contracts HIV has simply contracted a virus, like many of us have multiple times. It is not something gross, funny, or bad. Together, we can put an end to this stigma and the discrimination that follows, especially for LGBTQ+ youth with HIV or AIDS.
As a reminder, your voice matters. By sharing resources, you might be helping more people than you know. Today, on National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, find a way to raise awareness and spread helpful resources.
Written by Paloma Pinto