Ellie’s Expression: Discrimination against AIDS must end

Eleanor Marshall
Opinion Columnist

People with HIV and AIDS are treated unfairly, mainly because of the misinformation.

Many people are so confused they don’t realize that AIDS and HIV are not exactly the same thing. aids ribbon

HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, which is our body’s natural defence against illness. The virus destroys a type of white blood cell in the immune system and makes copies of itself inside these cells.

As HIV destroys more cells and makes more copies of itself, it gradually breaks down a person’s immune system. This means as time goes on, an HIV positive person not getting treatment will find it harder to fight off infections and diseases. If HIV is left untreated, it can take up to 10 or 15 years for the immune system to be so severely damaged it can no longer defend itself at all.
There is currently no cure for HIV, but with the right treatment, people can live a more normal, healthy life. This treatment helps limit the number of people who get to the final stage of HIV, known as AIDS.

AIDS is not a virus, rather a set of symptoms caused by the HIV virus. A person has AIDS when his or her immune system is too weak to fight off infection, and he or she develop certain symptoms and illnesses. This is when the infection is very advanced.

There is a huge stigma attached to HIV and AIDS. People are scared to be around HIV positive people in fear of “getting infected by the air,”which is impossible. The only ways to contract HIV is to share bodily fluids (not including saliva, sweat, or urine) with a person carrying the disease.

People who are HIV positive are thought of as dirty. Many picture drug users, impoverished and mentally ill people, sex workers, or members of the LGBTQ+ community (mostly gay men). While nothing is wrong with any of those people, the reality is: most of the time one can’t tell if a person has HIV and AIDS until they share their information.

Going back to the stigmas, the one around gay men is probably the most significant.

The FDA’s “Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products” states, “Defer for 12 months from the most recent sexual contact, a man who has had sex with another man during the past 12 months.”

In simpler terms, gay men must wait 12 months from the last time they had sex with other men to give blood, even if their sexual partner does not have HIV or AIDS.

Some could see this as being careful, but it is also very discriminating. Able blood donors are being turned away just because of their sexuality.

People aren’t just being turned away from donating, they are being turned away when they try to get help. According to AVERT, “Roughly one in eight people living with HIV is being denied health services because of stigma and discrimination.”

This prejudice towards people with HIV and AIDS should not be allowed. People are degraded and dehumanized for a disease. Would someone be put down for having cancer or heart disease? Obviously not.

It is time for this to stop.

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