With World Aids Awareness Day coming up on December 1 of this year, I thought I would share some things about AIDS/HIV with you. Sometimes I think that we have forgotten that this is still a real threat in our world. We tend to think more about the financial crisis and threats to our freedom than the very real threat lurking in our bedrooms.
When I was a teenager back in the 1980’s, I began to hear about AIDS. I actually don’t remember the first time I heard the term—probably on the news. But we learned about it in great depth in health class in high school. I grew up in the generation that benefited from the research that had been done concerning how one could catch this deadly disease. I was well aware of the fact that casual contact was not the way to catch it, and since I was not sexually active as a teenager (hard to believe, I know), I didn’t really have to worry about it.
I have to admit that AIDS has not ever played a significant role in my life. I never knew anyone who contracted the disease, and I never participated in the risky behavior that led to the disease. So I did not really think about it.
That is until I divorced my husband due to his mental illness, and I realized that I may be getting married again someday. No longer was a monogamous relationship for the rest of my life a guarantee that I would not be exposed to AIDS. While I was not going to participate in risky behaviors, I knew that if I did marry again, I might be exposed to it.
When I became a teacher, I interacted with adolescents, and I was privileged to attend their sex ed training with them. I was amazed to realize that AIDS was no longer a big part of sex ed. It seems that a shift has occurred. AIDS is not taught as being a big-time threat any more. Instead, all the other STD’s are emphasized. I was surprised to realize this, as was the librarian at our school.
Due to my school librarian’s concerns, I thought it was high time that I did some research to discover for myself if AIDS was still a threat to people today. Perhaps medical science had eradicated the threat. If that was the case, I wondered why I had never heard about this development.
As I began to do my own research, I was shocked to discover that AIDS is still a very real threat! In fact, the very students that I used to teach were the ones who were at risk! According to http://www.avert.org/usa-statistics.htm, African Americans are the highest risk category in the U.S. This is what my school librarian had said, and this site confirms it. And it is not restricted to the homosexual population. It is still a risk to the heterosexual population, as well. I was shocked to learn that it is estimated that more than one million people in the U.S. are living with AIDS.