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HIV/AIDS seems like it should be a thing of the past. Yet for many people all over the world, it is an everyday reality they face. And as millennials and today’s current twenty-somethings, born after the early 1980s, we’ve never know in a world without HIV/AIDS.

The Facts About HIV

After appearing in the 1980s, HIV is still prevalent. An estimated 36.7 million people globally live with the virus (1.8 million of those are children. Further, 30 percent of those people do not know that they have it. According to the World Health Organization, 1 million people died of HIV-related illnesses globally in 2016.

The stigma of HIV is still a problem in many parts of the world, particularly in the Deep South and sub-Saharan African countries. There is a lack of eduction and knowledge surrounding HIV and sexual health that leads people away from getting tested and seeking treatment that may drastically improve the quality of their lives.

While researchers are working daily towards finding a cure for HIV, the epidemic is still growing. UNAIDS reports that every week, 7,000 women — one every two minutes — contract HIV. What’s more, women between the ages of 10 and 24 are twice as likely as their male counterparts to contract HIV. This compounds with sexual stigmas for women make it exceptionally challenging for this particular at-risk group.

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Earlier this year at the Global Citizen Festival, Johnson & Johnson announced that they have made advances towards a promising HIV vaccine. While this is great news, there is still more we can do to make a difference and #makeHIVhistory..

What You Can Do

One of the first things you can do for yourself is get tested. Then, encourage others to do so as well. In the United States, young people make up over 20 percent of HIV/AIDS cases. Those between the ages of  13-24), according to the CDC, represent slight over one in five HIV diagnoses. Getting tested and finding out your status as early as possible will allow you to work with your physician to monitor your health.

Next, don’t be shy about opening up conversations, sharing correct information, and promoting awareness. All of these things combined will help reduce the stigma around HIV/AIDS. When people know their status, they can take the steps they need to seek treatment options.

The American Psychological Association (APA) found that 50 percent of millennials reported that they want more information on the disease. What’s more, 63 percent felt that the government should spend more on treatment and prevention. While making calls to your representatives can help, Phil Wilson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the BlackAIDS Institute, says to make the effort to learn the reasoning behind laws and legislation.

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HIV may not be history yet, but with more resources and information than ever, we are making progress.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.