December 1, 2008 marks two decades of increased awareness, improved education and a deeper understanding of the HIV\AIDS pandemic world wide. Here we are twenty years since the first celebrated World AIDS Day; a good time to check our progress.
Over time, we have seen society go through polar reactions to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The range goes from irrational pandemonium in the mid 1980’s involving chaotic grocery shopping incidents and an assumed HIV infected sneeze on the produce, to today’s almost apathetic annoyed disposition. Has our reaction to HIV\AIDS become comparable to the general reaction to a car alarm? That is, the warning is there, but no one believes it is their car, so everyone just gets annoyed by the alarm. Everyone except the poor bugger you see running towards the car almost in panic mode abusing his key alarm button in his attempt to quiet the beast.
The real beast is ignorance. Health Canada calls the epidemic here ‘severe and deeply troublesome’. Thousands of Canadians are infected each year and a staggering number of those infected are our youth. Every two hours, someone in this country becomes infected with HIV. Over 27% of infected people don’t even know they have HIV.
The sad truth is, our generation Y is still contracting HIV\AIDS through unprotected sex. The recent trend shows a large increase in the number of young women contracting HIV through heterosexual sex. This, to me, a mother of four wonderful daughters, is daunting.
What can we do? Most importantly, talk about it at home! Of equal import, encourage the kids to talk to one another. One must not become complacent. The Gen Y needs to start asking why.
This is dedicated to Frank and Jim because you helped my girls with their awareness and to The Casey House in Toronto, Canada – kudos to a fantastic place of care and compassion.