The theme of this year’s #NWGHAAD, National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, is “HIV prevention starts with me.” This theme is an important reminder about personal accountability in a culture that often demonizes people living with HIV and AIDS, especially women, girls, and LGBTQ people.
Criminalization of people living with HIV and AIDS is starting to receive rightful pushback, especially in California. However, there is a long history of blaming those people living with HIV for spreading the virus, when in reality, it is all of our responsibility to protect ourselves from HIV and AIDS. It is too easy for HIV-negative individuals to cast blame and shame, rather than take responsibility for their own health.
On an individual level, HIV prevention starts with knowing your status to ensure that you are not in a position to spread the virus. This can be accomplished in a lot of ways; for instance, a positive person could be taking antiretroviral medication to manage their viral load, and hopefully achieving an undetectable status. If a negative person feels that they might be at risk for acquiring HIV through sexual activity or needle use, they can look into PrEP. And of course, everyone should always practice safe sex – use condoms and make sure to get tested regularly.
This means that HIV prevention starts with information. For women and girls who are unsure about where to go for information about HIV, AIDS, and STIs, WORLD is always available. We’ll also be hosting our 3rd annual “Let’s Talk About Sex” event next Thursday at Humanist Hall in honor of #NWGHAAD. Featuring workshops, games, music, food, and a lot of fun, this free event is a great way to expand your knowledge and learn how to advocate for your own sexual wellness. Tickets are always FREE, but space is limited, so RSVP as soon as possible.