What does HIV look like? Is it the man who served you coffee this morning, or the woman who you just held the door for? Is it the little boy and his mother who you often see taking walks together in the neighborhood, or the guy who delivers your mail?
It is all of those people, especially today, because TODAY, September 22nd, is A Day with HIV.
Stigma can cut deeper than a knife. It can disgrace an individual, and shame an entire community. When it comes to illnesses such as HIV, stigma can discourage people from getting tested, just as it can make others fear disclosing their status.
Yet when left untreated, HIV is not just highly contagious, it is also almost universally fatal.
About 1.2 million people in the United States were living with HIV (as of 2012). Of those, about 13% (over 155,000 people) do not know they are infected. Additionally, about 50,000 people get infected with HIV each year.
If we are going to stop the spread of HIV, we need to get everyone who may be infected to overlook the stigma and get tested for the virus.
Now in its sixth year, the goal of A Day with HIV is simple—to confront the stigma of HIV by sharing the pictures and stories of people who are affected by HIV. Today, people everywhere will “take their best shot against HIV” by grabbing their smartphone or digital camera to capture a moment of that day that tells their story. The power of these images, of people like you and me, give others the resolve to come forward.
TODAY, won’t you please join us by sharing your own photo? Grab your smartphones or digital camera and capture a moment of your day that tells a story, regardless of your HIV status. Tag your photo on social media with #adaywithhiv and #stopHIVTogether. Get in the picture and participate in A Day with HIV.
A Day with HIV is an awareness and anti-stigma photo campaign presented by Positively Aware magazine in partnership with Let’s Stop HIV Together, an HIV awareness and anti-stigma effort of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Photo submissions will be featured on ADAYWITHHIV.COM and selected photos will appear in POSITIVELY AWARE magazine’s November/December issue. In addition, four pictures will be chosen by a panel of celebrity judges to be featured on four different covers of the magazine.
And if you or someone you know may be living with HIV, head to www.cdc.gov/Together for more information. And please get tested. Because A Day with HIV looks like all of us.
Let’s unite in the effort to address stigma and contribute to changing perceptions about HIV. After all, people with HIV are real people – mothers, fathers, friends, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, partners, wives, husbands, co-workers, mail carriers and baristas too.