Glasgow, Scotland has seen the UK's worst outbreak of HIV in 30 years, according to the city's health workers. Homeless people and drug users are the groups most affected. About 1% of people who inject drugs in Glasgow had HIV just seven years ago. Now it's more than 10%, as published this year in The Lancet HIV journal. Adding to the problem two of the city's busiest needle exchanges have closed in the last few years. The city's streets have been flooded with cheap, high-grade cocaine, with users wanting to inject more frequently - every couple of hours leading to an increase in needle sharing. It is estimated that 5,431 individuals living in Scotland have been diagnosed HIV-positive. In 2017, the UK as a whole estimated that there were almost 102,000 people living with HIV with 1 in 12 not knowing that they have the virus. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimated that 150,000 adults and children were living with HIV in Colombia, so far in 2019, the numbers have significantly increased. Global HIV & AIDS statistics reported currently between; 37–44 million people globally are living with HIV. Of these in 2017, 1.8 million were children under the age of 15. More than one million die from AIDS-related illnesses annually.
Pre-1980 It is widely believed that the first known symptoms were recorded in 1920, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It wasn’t until the mid- 80s did it start becoming an epidemic. Governments were slow to act globally saying “It was a gay-thing” Some famous people went as far as saying “it was Gods punishment for gays”. All that changed when the actor Rock Hudson died in 1985 (most of you too young to remember him) did people sit-up and realise that this virus also affected heterosexuals. Bold/ stark commercials started hitting TV screens with, “Safe Sex-HIV-AIDS” use a condom message including the image of a grey headstone-signalling- DEATH. People were shocked seeing these adverts everywhere on billboards, in the papers/magazines, on the radio and TV. Those who had lived a sheltered life (innocent) were choking on their morning muesli (pre- granola) hearing the words; penis, vagina, sperm, syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia. Parents were never so embarrassed -Mom/Dad what is….?
At that time a lot of false information spread on how you could get infected such as; holding hands, drinking from the same glass or cup, using a toilet seat after someone else or just by kissing. Even today information is conflicting, last week the media reported - BRITAIN is "on course" to be HIV-free nation by 2030 - as rates fall to the lowest level in almost two decades. Schools and parents should push for these adverts to be shown again. Never mind telling children it’s better not to have sex- think back to your younger days! Did you listen? No, I didn’t think so.
Having known some friends who are no longer with us, and seeing someone ageing from mid-20s to 80s in a few months after the virus passes from HIV to full-blown AIDS is shocking. It’s also a problem here in Quindío/Armenia, when I have asked about friends here who have the virus “did you use a condom?” I got the same reply from each of them- “No”. Once a young man said to me “using or not using a condom is a personal choice” Maybe but knowingly infecting another person is a criminal offence!
Not deflating one’s ego: If the little man comes out to play: Cover him!
Until next Tuesday- Play safe
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