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Monday December 1st marks the 26th annual World AIDS Day, which will be commemorated by many events in Portland, including Cascade AIDS Project’s inaugural Heroes of HIV Luncheon. Launched in 1988 by World Health Organization public information officers James W. Bunn and Thomas Nutter, the campaign truly is a global event. For each World AIDS Day, the acting pope has released a greeting message for patients and doctors, and since 1995 each US President has made a commemorative proclamation.
A theme is declared each year by the WHO. Originally these drew criticism, as, fearing the stigma surrounding the disease, early themes focused on children and young people with the disease. As time progressed, more mature themes, such as “Stigma and Discrimination,” and “Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise” were introduced.
Since 2011, World AIDS Day’s multi-year theme has been “Getting to Zero.” Where once presidents neglected even to say the word “AIDS,” beginning in 2007, the White House has honored World AIDS Day by displaying a 28 foot red AIDS ribbon from its North Portico. From mid-November on, Portlanders will have many chances to observe World AIDS Day in the Rose City. From November 15-December 7, the Cascade AIDS Project’s Archive Display will be exhibited in the Central Library’s Collins Gallery.
Among gay and bi men studied by Kaiser, however, only one fourth understood treating HIV infection helped prevent future transmission, and only 26% knew about PrEP at all. Such ignorance may be behind the recent upward trends in HIV infection, unfortunately, along with the stigma that still dogs a positive diagnosis. Two thirds of those studied said they’d be uncomfortable” being in a relationship with someone who was HIV-positive, and 77% expressed discomfort about having casual sex with an HIV-positive man. Such views are counterintuitive, however, as it’s far riskier having sex with someone who doesn’t know their status, like the 44% of young men who’ve never been tested, than with an HIV-positive partner who consistently treats their infection.
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