There is no cure and no vaccine. Many people are unaware they have HIV. Millions are still dying. HIV is a Pandemic and the UN has a special department for HIV – UNAIDS.
There are many long term HIV survivors. Pregnant mothers who know their HIV status and take medication rarely pass on HIV to their newborn babies.
HIV does not choose who it infects. People who get HIV didn’t “ask for it” or “deserve it”. Anyone can be at risk: those who think they are in monogamous relationships; straight; gay; young; old; even babies.
Fear of people with HIV/AIDS still exists and the stigma has not disappeared. Many with HIV will not tell others or even their families that they have it. Ignorant comments abound.
Some medication can have side effects or can even be deadly. But for the most part treatment is less toxic and fewer pills are needed. Now, there is medication that babies can take.
Many people admit to knowing nothing about HIV (I was guilty of this before I was told I had it). There is a lack of HIV education in schools (perhaps even worse than in the early ‘90’s). It is difficult to find a family doctor familiar with HIV – many doctors rely on HIV specialists to look after patients. What used to be front page news is now almost invisible. No red ribbons are worn at the Oscars. It is hard to know whether the public has become oblivious or don’t care.
Those who know they are infected have affordable access to medication, and comply with treatment regimens are leading the way in stopping the spread of the virus. Specialist doctors and support workers have worked hard to reach the disenfranchised to make sure they stay on medication. Some Provincial Governments realize the importance of needle exchanges. However, Provincial Government Medicare covers catastrophic illness differently (support services and financing) - it is not easy to move from one province to another when you have HIV, even if you need the support of your family and home.
Many countries still do not allow people with HIV to visit for a vacation.
The Canadian government does not have any AIDS strategy.
Research is finding that other illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia and some cancers are more prevalent in people with HIV.
Government finance is being cut for support services for those living with HIV.
There is no figure for the number of people who have committed suicide because of HIV.
Almost everyone I meet who is HIV-positive will NOT ask how I got infected. They know it can happen to anyone.