By James Boyton
Seen all the “Ending HIV” posters about Sydney? Here’s what it’s all about.
ENDING HIV is a campaign aimed at upskilling us on HIV, its treatments and most importantly how to stop the spread.
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, weakening the body’s defense against other life-threatening diseases and infections.
It is usually transmitted through unprotected sex, or sharing injecting equipment.
“While there are many efforts to find a cure or vaccine for HIV over the last few decades, we unfortunately have yet to find either,” says ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill.
“However, we have had significant developments in biomedical interventions for both prevention and treatments that have changed what HIV looks like today.
“Living with HIV is not the same as having AIDS, and in fact, with advancements made with treatment, many people living with HIV will never see it progress to AIDS.”
The stigma around the virus has come a long way since its outbreak in the 80’s, and the increase in awareness and medical advances has health experts predicting we can end HIV.
Not that long ago HIV was seen as a death sentence, but whilst the virus is not curable, it IS treatable.
People with HIV can live long lives with medication. Those who are on effective treatment and have a low viral load are often referred to as “undetectable”.
Undetectable means that there is only a small amount of the virus in your blood. The most important thing is that someone who us undetectable CANNOT pass on the virus.
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As we reach the 2020 marker, we have made great strides towards ending HIV transmissions. While we know our work is not yet over, we are taking this moment to celebrate the wins and say thank you to the community. For testing often, treating early, staying safe, and for bringing us ever closer to ending HIV transmission for all, thank you. #EndingHIV #HIV #ACONhealth #WhatMatters #MardiGras2020
So what should we do? Test and test often. The quicker a person who has contracted HIV knows about their HIV status, they can get treatment and become undetectable as soon as possible.
There are lots ways (besides condoms) to prevent contracting HIV. Including PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a daily medication that helps your body not contract the virus. There is also PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), this is a course of medication that you can take if you think you may have been exposed to HIV.
HIV does not discriminate. It effects every country and community. ACON is doing a great job in education and helping people understand the virus rather than fear it.
You can learn more about HIV at endinghiv.org.au.