Every year for many decades now, July has been designated as the month to raise awareness about HIV. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus emerged somewhere in the early 1900s, causing the disease AIDS. However, it did not reach peak pandemic levels until the 1980s.
Since then, the control and management of HIV has improved tremendously. The antiretroviral therapies and other medical approaches these days have allowed almost all HIV patients to live normal, healthy lives and prevent complications.
Despite this, the stigma related to HIV is still prevalent in society, as many people still don’t know much about this disease. Here’s how you can help raise awareness about HIV:
- Self Education Comes First
In order to help the community around you know more about HIV and AIDS,it’s important to first know all the facts about the disease first. There are many scientifically backed resources out there, especially online.
These resources will allow you to know how the disease spreads, what the symptoms are like, what complications can develop and what the current treatments are like.
As the saying goes; knowledge is power. In order to bring more good facts about HIV and allay the public’s fears, your own understanding has to be tip top.
- Share A Red Ribbon
The official symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness month is a red ribbon, folded so that the top resembles an oval shape. Sharing this on your social media accounts as well as wearing it in real life is a simple, understated step in raising awareness. You can also attach the red ribbon logo as an accessory on your bag.
Through this step, you can encourage your family and friends to find out about the HIV awareness campaign by themselves. It’s even better if your ribbon becomes a conversation starter.
- Take Part in Awareness Events
During the HIV Awareness month in July, there will be many events both local and international. Some of it may take place fully online. Some of these events include online seminars, forums, art competitions and more.
If you come across any of these events, you can support them by sharing them and taking part in them. The more people participate, the better and more effective the awareness campaign will be.
Taking part in awareness events will increase your own knowledge about the disease as well, and equip you to help others know more about the subject of HIV/AIDS.
- Volunteer for The Cause
In Singapore, there are several organizations that are dedicated towards the AIDS and HIV cause in Singapore. One of these is Action for AIDS Singapore that has been active for about 30 years now.
Their main aim is to end AIDS in SIngapore by 2030, via education and encouraging testing. They accept volunteers for the various programs that they run, including workshops, education programs, counseling, anonymous testing, mobile testing and award events.
Whatever skills you have, you can always be useful to organizations such as AFA, and contribute actively to society while you’re at it.
- Help Organize Your Own Event
You don’t necessarily have to go through an NGO or an organization to raise awareness for HIV or AIDS. If you’re a business owner or an influencer, you can always use the platforms that you have to do your bit for the community.
If you’re an employee, you can suggest to your company to do a HIV/AIDS related program as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.
One example of an event that was organized by members of the public was Flowers on the Boulevard, whereby flowers like sunflowers and roses are placed on the memorial plaques of Hollywood celebrities who survived or passed away from AIDS.
In other places, event organizers send flowers to AIDS patients receiving treatment in hospitals, in order to cheer them up.
Flowers are a particularly pleasant way for you to cheer up any event that you organize for HIV Awareness month. At places like Farm Florist you can even order flowers on the day of the event itself. Farm Florist is able to deliver flower arrangements island-wide within 1 hour of your order, and orders can be made 24/7.
Some Notes On HIV and AIDS in Singapore
Both the terms HIV and AIDS often get mixed up when we discuss this topic. To be clear, HIV or human immunodeficiency virus refers specifically to the virus causing the disease, whereas the disease itself is called AIDS. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
In Singapore, the Ministry of Health keeps statistical records of AIDS patients in the country. Currently, here are the main statistics for HIV/AIDS:
- The annual average number of AIDS patients in the country has been declining.
- From 2007 to 2017, the average cases per year has been between 400-500.
- However, from 2018 to 2019, the number of cases dropped to between 310-330 cases.
- The total number of AIDS cases in Singapore is about 8618 until 2019.
- Of this number, more than 6500 are still alive.
- The main mode of transmission for AIDS in Singapore was unprotected intercourse, which has caused 97% of the cases in 2019.
- An overwhelming majority, namely 95% of the AIDS cases reported in 2019 were male, with most of them aged between 20-49 years old.
Most of the cases detected in Singapore (54%) were found through the course of medical care, meaning that the patients came in with late stage AIDS related complications. Only about 38% were detected during routine or voluntary screening.
For any disease, testing is one effective method of control. As such, in doing your part for raising HIV/AIDS awareness in Singapore, encouraging testing for individuals should always be a part of the message.
Additionally, there should also be a message of non-discrimination towards AIDS patients. To do this, we should always emphasize that HIV only has three known modes of transmission in society, which is via infected needles, unprotected intercourse and from mother to baby.
Daily interactions such as hugging, shaking hands, playing sports and working together are not transmission methods. Therefore, interacting normally with an AIDS patient is something that can and should occur.