Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Beyond December 1st

Posted by Tahirah

Yesterday the Block went RED as we highlighted World AIDS Day.

Of course we weren't the only ones dripped in red - the cause was highlighted from twitter to Starbucks and beyond with celebrities and corporate throwing their weight behind various charities dedicated to fundraising AIDS research and raising awareness.

I was one of the thousands of people with a little red ribbon adourned on my body, but it led me into actually THINKING about the AIDS situation rather than buying into the slightly glamourised hype around it.

At the end of 2008 the estimate was that around 33 to 36 million people around the world are living with the virus. In the UK an estimated 80,000 people are living with HIV or AIDS with around 20,000 people not knowing they are infected.

We take a pretty interesting stance on it over here. Because our figures seem considerably less than, say, the ratio of people living with AIDS in the US (and of course, Africa) it seems to get less coverage and the stigma around it is just as high as it's ever been. As usual, the big focus around this year's World AIDS Day (and specifically the Red campaign) is Africa, but I'm urging people to look closer to home.

Wherever you are, I guarentee you - you at least know somebody who knows somebody who is infected with the virus. So take a minute to educate yourself, dispell ANY warped myths you have around it (no - someone with AIDS or HIV isn't dirty, you can't catch it by drinking from the same mug, and - you should definitely know this one - most AIDS sufferers are not druggies/gay/overtly promiscuous).

One of the most important - and harrowing things to realise is it can affect anyone. Beyond that, sexual health is important anyway, because while you might not think AIDS is an issue, every Tom, DICK, and Kadijah under 25 has risk of catching clamydia over here! So girls, make sure you got your own stash of rubbers and boys, don't be silly with your willies and don't be afraid of the clinic. Once we drop all the ignorance, we'll really be able to challenge and fight for the cause beyond wearing red string (or sexy red laces) next year.

Blocker Nee-Nee posing with some World AIDS Day toast in Central London