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“Start Talking, Stop HIV”

While most of the headlines revolving around HIV focus on supposed breakthrough cures and death tolls, there tends to be a lack of advocacy for preventative measures. In addition to this issue, there is often a stigma around contracting HIV that makes it difficult to establish healthy discussion about preventative measures in relationships.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recognized this problem and developed a campaign called “Start Talking, Stop HIV,” which calls for more conversations between gay and bisexual men about how to stay safe and avoid contracting HIV. With this campaign, the CDC hopes to decrease the number of HIV cases every year.

The CDC explains, “gay and bisexual men – including those who inject drugs – account for over half of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States (57 percent, or an estimated 657,800 people), and two-thirds of all new HIV infections each year.”

Within the guidelines of the campaign, the CDC suggests discussing topics like “supporting HIV testing, HIV status disclosure, condom use and the use of medicines to prevent and treat HIV.”

Bringing these issues into the public eye will hopefully minimize the stigma around the issue. The Huffington Post explains the need for a campaign like this, noting “studies have shown that open conversations about testing and prevention don’t occur very often within relationships among gay and bisexual men.”

According to the CDC, “Stopping HIV among gay and bisexual men has been a top CDC priority since the epidemic began more than three decades ago.” With this campaign, they are finally making progress.

To make the campaign as successful as possible, the CDC provides tips for conversation starters, facts on HIV prevention and all of the materials available for information about the campaign like brochures and videos.

The importance of the CDC campaign extends to global poverty as well. HIV is caught in a vicious cycle with poverty, in which those with the disease in impoverished countries are unable to contribute to the society’s economy. On the other hand, impoverished societies are unable to treat people and provide adequate prevention services unless poverty is reduced. By advocating for healthy discussion and preventative measures against HIV, there is hope for ending the cycle.

According to the CDC, “At the end of 2009, an estimated 1,148,200 persons aged 13 and older were living with HIV infection in the United States.” With campaigns like ‘Start Talking, Stop HIV,” awareness and prevention can spread.

— Maggie Wagner 

Sources: Edge on the Net, CDC 1, Aids.gov, Huff Post, CDC 2
Photo: Vimeo