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Is one single day a year really enough to end the impact of AIDS?

When I started writing my book earlier this year, about how I am living with AIDS and how I hope that my story can help other people, I wondered if it would be a good idea to publish it close to World AIDS Day, on 1 December 2017. But AIDS is not just for one day. We can’t only think about it on 1 December and then go about our lives for the next 364 days until it comes around again. When you live with AIDS, or you live with someone who is living with AIDS, you can’t ignore for all but one day of the year. You can’t put money in the tin or tick the box and go about your life for the rest of the year. It’s there with you, all the time. While I thoroughly support World AIDS Day and the great way in which it raises awareness of the issues, I do think that we need to spend more than just one day a year considering it.

For many people, ‘AIDS’ carries a great deal more significance than ‘HIV’. As this blog highlights World AIDS Day, I have used only the term AIDS. The two terms are not synonymous or interchangeable and if you’re not sure of the difference, take a look at this website which explains it.

When you live with AIDS – either yourself, through your partner or a family member – it might not be what you think about the most, every single day. It may be there in the background, always hovering just out of sight. But it’s always there. Every day.

For some people it will be their uppermost thought and how they are going to survive today. This was how I felt when I was first told that I had AIDS. It’s about getting through each day, one at a time. Every day that you complete is special – especially when you’re told that you might have as few as 14 days left on this earth. When you get to the end of those 14 days, you think about the next 14 and then perhaps you dare to dream about the next 30 and then one day, the next 365. It’s far more than just one day. This why one single day a year is not enough.

Let’s end it

This year, the focus of World AIDS Day is about ending the negative impact of AIDS. While the UK has a relatively small AIDS community, in comparison with some other countries, there is still a great deal of stigma attached to AIDS and those who live with it.  For too many of the people living with AIDS, other people’s ignorance and discrimination are still limiting their opportunities, preventing them from living full and happy lives. This year’s World AIDS Day campaign is calling for a new burst of energy to end the stigma attached to AIDS and to end the isolation that is experienced by people living with it.

What can you do to help?

You can join the #LetsEndIt campaign to start with! The World AIDS Day website is full of images that you can use in social media, to show your support. But don’t just post on 1 December 2017 – keep doing it. We need to keep talking about AIDS and we need to keep dealing with the negative impact that is holding too many people back from living a full life. My commitment is that I will post on social media every single week, from 1 December 2017 until World AIDS Day in 2018, to keep people talking about it. Will you join me?

You can also write to your local MP to ask for their support in ending ignorance about AIDS and the discrimination that people living with AIDS have to deal with. You can do this through the World AIDS Day website. The website is also full of resources that can be used in schools and for fundraising.

While I fully support World AIDS Day and the great work it does in raising awareness, as someone living with AIDS, I also know that we need to keep talking about the issue way beyond 1 December 2017. We need to continue to help others living with AIDS, to educate those who do not understand it and to end the discrimination and stigma attached to it. That is the only way in which we’ll be able to end it.

If you’d like to know more about living with AIDS, or how you can deal with any discrimination you’re facing, please do get in touch. You can call me on 07752 518 925 or click here to email me.

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