Can you tell if a person has HIV? What if someone in your family contracted the disease?
What if that person was you? Would your friends and family be there to support you with this life-threatening disease? Would your relationship be affected? How about your job?
World AIDS Day, December 1st, is quickly approaching and there will be many events around T&T addressing this worldwide epidemic. It is estimated that there are approximately 15,000 people in Trinidad living with HIV, however this information is outdated and there are many uncounted numbers of persons who remain untested, unknowingly living with the disease. While this issue may feel far from home, the scary truth is the AIDS epidemic is not discriminatory and can affect anyone, at any age, having unprotected sexual intercourse.
Young people need to be made aware that STDs are a common reality and some, when contracted, can kill. There are many advancements in HIV treatment that keep patients healthy for many years; however, there is no cure. You Should:
Sexual partners should get tested at the start of a new relationship, especially if they choose later on to engage in unprotected sex. Open discussions about past sexual relationships should also be had, to build a stronger bond between the partners and encourage open dialogue about each other’s well-being.
If you or your partner is tested positive for HIV/AIDS, they will need your support now more than ever. The AIDS Helpline offers counselling for both patients and their partners/families. Get on the internet and search for essential support, whether medical or otherwise.
Join the Fight
Local support groups are there to help those who may feel marginalised because of this disease. They can offer counselling, medical help and financial assistance, but most importantly, knowing that you are not alone can make you feel empowered enough to fight for a healthy life. Many patients living with HIV/AIDS have become counsellors themselves, health advocates and motivational speakers, doing much with their life when others have written them off with a death sentence. Buy the ribbon, join an AIDS support group, and join the walk!