Just a quick note to let you know that the March 2013 issue of ATTITUDE Magazine is out now, and wow is it a tasty one! This month is is ATTITUDE’s famed ‘Naked Issue’ – featuring toned torsos and buttocks from the likes of Shayne Ward and Colin Gentry.
But fear not dear reader it’s not all style and no substance, this Naked Issue ATTITUDE have teamed up with NAT (National AIDS Trust) to talk about safer sex, condom use, HIV and the importance of getting tested – a must read.
Oh, and don’t forget my column – this month I talk about how I’m having ups and downs with my medication but how I remain thankful that it’s now, and not 30 years ago. Find out why…
Lots of love,
Today, Saturday 1st December 2012, is the 24th World Aids Day.
We’ve come a long way in thirty-four years. Back then a HIV diagnosis was more often than not followed with an AIDS diagnosis and a high likelihood of death. Now in 2012 HIV is a manageable condition, with early diagnosis and modern treatment regimens we can expect to live as long as any of our HIV- contemporaries, some say even longer with the constant health monitoring and care we receive.
But HIV still has no cure, it’s a life long condition – one that is not easy to live with, either physically or emotionally. The HIV related complications are numerous, the risk of certain cancers is dramatically higher and that’s not even mentioning the stigma and discrimination HIV+ people can still face today.
Whilst things may have improved dramatically for people living with HIV in the developed world the same thing can’t be said for others around the world. Deaths from HIV/AIDS in Africa are still unconscionably high. We need to work on providing support, education, cheaper medication and contraception. If we’re going to fight this epidemic we need to hit it – HARD.
Closer to home, I hear a lot of people asking “What does World AIDS Day have to do with me?”, and until I was diagnosed I’m ashamed to admit that I was one of those people. We’re bombarded with so many “international days” it’s hard to keep track of what’s happening when and whether it’s worth getting involved. In November alone there are TWENTY-FOUR “international days” including:
- World Planning Day
- World Kindness Day
- World Pneumonia Day
- World Hello Day
- World Fisheries Day
But World AIDS Day is one of the biggies. It happens in most countries around the world with the backing of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation. It’s a time to reflect on those we’ve lost to the disease internationally over the few decades, time to think about how we can help work towards a HIV free generation, and time to think about our own behavior.
Leading up to this year’s World AIDS Day there was the first UK wide ‘HIV Testing Week’ – an initiative to get people up and down the country regardless of gender, age, sexuality or ethnicity to go and get tested. Something I wrote about the other day ‘Read more…’
But don’t let the good work stop there, if you didn’t get chance to go get tested this week – go next week! Once you’ve done it put an appointment in your diary to go again in six months, the short time it takes to get tested is a small price to pay for peace of mind and being in control of your own health, and the health of those you sleep with.
I’m going to be spending today wandering around Central London with the Terrence Higgins Trust rattling buckets and collecting money to help continue the fight against HIV. If you see us please fling some change our way, and if you don’t perhaps you could go online and donate something?
Whatever you do this World AIDS Day do it with kindness, love and thought.
Since I started this blog and my Twitter account a couple of months ago I have been inundated with messages, comments and tweets from people asking me questions about HIV, and whilst I’m by no means an expert I always endeavour to answer them to the best of my ability – and where I can’t I’ll refer them to one of the authoritative websites (like NAM, or THT). Some of the questions are from genuinely curious people, asking how it affects my day to day life, what treatment programme I’m on or how I’m coping with it – to name just a few.
Other questions I get asked, however, are far more worrying. Today, for example, I was asked in an email:
“How do I know if I have HIV? What are the symptoms?”.
The only way to tell whether you’re HIV+ (that means you have contracted the HIV virus) is to GET TESTED.
Yes it can be nerve-wracking going to get tested, we’ve all been there “Oh I’ll do it next week, next month, oh I’m busy then, I’ll do it next month” – putting it off and off, but all you’re doing is making it more difficult to eventually go and find out. Using modern ‘FasTEST’ testing kits you can have your results in as little as 15 minutes and no needles. Just a tiny prick on the finger and that’s it.
With early diagnosis and proper treatment you can live just as long and just as well as anyone else. I’ve received amazing care and support, both from the NHS and the THT, and I’m looking forward to living into my old age with some handsome man.
I urge everyone who reads this, who isn’t HIV+ or hasn’t been tested recently, GO AND GET TESTED THIS WEEK. Maybe you’re looking for an easy to do New Year’s Resolution? This one will take just 15 minutes of your time and could save your life, and save the lives of those you love and/or play with.
There are centres up and down the country, in big cities, little towns, gay centres, NHS centres, charity centres – you could even do it on your lunch break or on the way home from work. Use the THT Clinic Finder to find your nearest clinic and carry through on your new resolution.
Love and best wishes,