HIV and AIDS Awareness – The Argonaut

In 2016, 36.7 million people were living with HIV / AIDS, including 160,000 children under the age of 15 (UNAIDS, 2018). World AIDS Day, celebrated on December 1 each year, raises awareness of the HIV epidemic which has helped to build unity and expand health care for those facing HIV / AIDS. There is a negative stigma surrounding those who deal with the disease, affecting them emotionally and physically. Many of these negative beliefs about people living with HIV / AIDS stem from prejudices about gender, sexuality and race. Anyone can get HIV / AIDS. It is most often transmitted through unprotected anal or vaginal sex. In addition, sharing syringes or needles for injecting drugs is a high risk behavior for transmitting HIV / AIDS. Other less common ways of spreading HIV / AIDS include, mother to child during childbirth, blood transfusions, oral sex, or being stuck by a contaminated needle. Although HIV is very serious, there are ways to prevent infection and / or treat symptoms.

Low-risk behaviors such as abstinence, safe / protected sex, annual testing for STDs, not using drugs with shared needles, and open communication with your sexual partners will all lower your risk of contracting HIV. /AIDS. There is also a pill, called Truvada, which can reduce the risk of infection with HIV / AIDS. This pill is now approved for people to take daily as a prophylaxis according to the National Institutes of Health. In addition, in recent years, medical advances have been made to slow the progression of AIDS; however, this medicine for treating HIV / AIDS does not cure the disease. According to, HIV is a retrovirus in which the drugs used to treat are antiretrovirals (ARVs). Treatment is a combination of ARVs and if taken consistently and correctly it will keep a person healthy for many years and reduce the risk of transmission to a sexual partner.

World AIDS Day promotes medical and community support for people living with HIV / AIDS by promoting and facilitating events that increase awareness and education and reduce negative stigma. As part of HIV / AIDS awareness, the University of Idaho is also organizing several events. Vandal Health Education and the LGBTQA office welcome the North Idaho AIDS Coalition to campus to offer free HIV testing to the University of Idaho community on Wednesday, November 28, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Idaho Commons room Panorama. All students, faculty and staff are welcome to participate to access free HIV testing – testing is free, confidential and timely. The CDC recommends that all people aged 13 to 64 be tested at least once as part of routine health care. Those who engage in high-risk behaviors should be tested more often. Additionally, Vandal Health Education and Generation Action will be tabled in the Commons during the week to promote World AIDS Day and STI prevention.

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