Here's why we need to talk about World AIDS Day

30 November 2018

It's World AIDS Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about how we can fight HIV around the world and support people living with the virus, as well as remembering those who have suffered or died from AIDS-related illnesses in the past.

Why is raising awareness about HIV and AIDS so important? Because there's so much misinformation around, especially since the fear of HIV infection in many countries around the world is not now what it once was.

There's also still loads of stigma attached to the virus, which doesn't help in terms of getting the conversation going!

What you may not know:

36.9 million people are living with HIV RN around the world, and it's young people who are most at risk of new infections.

In Africa, AIDS is the biggest killer of adolescents, and it's the second biggest killer of adolescents worldwide.

Young girls are often particularly at risk - 75% of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa are among girls aged 15-19. Young women aged 15-24 are actually twice as likely to be living with HIV than young men.

In 2017, 25% of those 36.9 million people living with HIV didn't know their status.

Which means a quarter of people with HIV may not think twice about sharing a needle, having unprotected sex or doing other risky activities that enable HIV to spread.

What you may think you know:

What's also totally unhelpful is that there are plenty of myths about HIV and AIDS flying around, which spread like wildfire. Let's debunk some of the most common myths.

There's no treatment for HIV - There is no cure for HIV, but antiretroviral treatment can control the virus and even make it undetectable, meaning that people with HIV can live long and healthy lives, and have less than a 1% chance of passing the virus on!

If you have HIV, you'll always pass it on through sex -

The symptoms of HIV are always the same - The symptoms of HIV can differ from person-to-person and some people may not get any symptoms at all, which is why it's so important to get tested and know your status.

Without treatment, the virus will get worse over time and damage your immune system, but there are three stages of HIV infection with different possible effects.

HIV infection rates are all decreasing - This isn't true within all demographics.

New HIV infections among men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs are on the rise, and aren't declining among transgender people or sex workers.

What we do about it:

Young people are our MTV audience worldwide, and we know how much HIV is impacting on their lives.

Our charity, the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, fights HIV around the world by funding amazing, youth-led HIV-prevention programmes and by producing ground-breaking content for young people around the world.

MTV Staying Alive believes in the power of young people to create the change we want to see. We find, fund and train inspiring young people working in their local communities to educate and empower people to prevent HIV and make healthy choices in regard to their sexual health.

We're also making a marked difference. Since 2005, MTV Staying Alive has given out over $6 million in grants across 73 countries, directly reached over 3.2 million young people, tested more than 270,000 people for HIV and distributed over 9.7 million condoms.

That's a lot of condoms.

This year, we're celebrating the 20th anniversary of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation. Celebrate with us by clicking here to find out more about our work and our amazing grantees, and by donating to help us continue to fight HIV around the world.


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