Each year, all across the world there is a day dedicated to raise awareness and show support for people living with HIV or AIDS. People will unite to support their communities’ efforts in improving policies and programs to fight against stigmas and honor those with HIV or AIDS. A 2017 report released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) showed that American Indian communities have seen and fewer deaths of people with HIV or AIDS. Even with accomplishments like this, there is still a HIV and AIDS stigma.
This December 1st, the World Aids Day theme is ‘Community Makes the Difference.” You can show support for people affected through love and compassion in your community. The impact of this serious illness can be more than on the body. Having this illness can have a major effect on a person’s mental health. Many people have negative beliefs, feelings or attitudes towards people suffering from HIV or AIDS. Fears about how someone got HIV, the belief that someone has HIV because of choices they made, and the passing of judgement can lead people to treat those with HIV and AIDS differently. Being treated differently or feeling judged leads many people living with HIV and AIDS to feel unhappy.
According to the CDC, the most common mental health concern for people living with HIV and AIDS is depression. Depression can have symptoms like sadness that does not go away, anxiety, an empty or hopeless feeling and disinterest in things that someone once enjoyed. The good news is that depression can be treated. Whether or not, you know someone who has HIV or AIDS, you can support them through love and compassion. You can dedicate December 1st to supporting those with AIDS by wearing a red ribbon in an effort to raise awareness. Learn facts about HIV and AIDS that challenges stigmas. Correct the misconceptions that you hear. Choose intentional and thoughtful words when talking about HIV and AIDS. Be a role model to others by being kind to those living with HIV or AIDS. Small positive changes in your community will make a big difference.