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Breaking the Silence Again: Why We ALL Need to Care About HIV/AIDS

By Elizabeth Lombino

June 22, 2011

Ignorance = Fear, Silence = Death

Okay, this blog entry is directed at those who are not actively involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS. For those who are active and would like to persuade others to join us, please share it with them. We are all well aware of the need to maintain our voice in this fight; we also need to recruit new members to share our mission and passion!

HIV/AIDS affects all of us. Some of you may doubt this statement so let me elaborate. HIV/AIDS does not discriminate, nor does it target any one specific group of people. This is a false assumption and it's a huge myth that we all must work to combat.

Here's why: many of my fellow professionals, colleagues and friends are also parents or we have strong connections with little members of our families. It is our job as parents, caregivers and loving family members to protect and educate our children.

For a variety of reasons (think abstinence-only education) HIV/AIDS has started to become silent again. HIV infection rates are soaring among young people. Many youngsters are once again embracing the myths that were prominent in the early years of the epidemic. Ones like "You can tell someone has AIDS just by looking at them." Or "I can't get AIDS -- it only happens to 'those people.'"

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And sadly, many parents of these children are under-educated and embracing the myths as well. Denial and avoidance are becoming trendy parenting strategies again. As Weinergate has clearly showed us, even the most intelligent people can experience a major lapse in good judgment.

At the same time, it is so important for us to all combat the stigma surrounding those living with HIV/AIDS. This intense stigma can feed into the spread of misinformation. Many of us have uttered the words "that can't happen to me." Whether it's HIV, a car accident, a bounced check, or someone unfriending you on Facebook, many of us live in denial or view our own life as somehow superior to others to avoid what could very easily become a reality. This stigma fuels the stereotypes surrounding HIV/AIDS. It also leaves those living with HIV/AIDS feeling isolated and hopeless in their own reality.

To that end, we all need to advocate for the continued improvements in medications and other medical treatments related to HIV/AIDS. This is the only way we will ensure the continued improved health of those living with HIV/AIDS. This is also one powerful way to prevent further spread of HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS cannot become silent again. We must continue to combat the myths and misinformation surrounding this disease. We need to work to reduce the stigma associated with those living with HIV/AIDS. We must demand more comprehensive education. We need to break denial and confront our behaviors and those of our children. We need to be real and open and accept the world we live in.

The disease of HIV/AIDS needs to be eradicated.

Those living with HIV/AIDS need to be embraced.

Let's all live like it's 2011 -- not 1981.

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