This week in Washington, D.C., approximately 25,000 delegates from around the globe are gathering for the International AIDS Conference. The 19th annual conference, which began on Sunday at the Walter E. Johnson Convention Center, features live performances, exhibitions, and a video room, as well as access to pieces of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and keynote addresses by Elton John and former President Bill Clinton.
One major takeaway for attendees, according to the Los Angeles Times, is that HIV-positive patients should begin treatment as soon as possible: “Studies show that treating HIV-positive patients with antiretroviral drugs early in the course of the infection lengthens life and lowers the risk of tuberculosis and other bacterial infections.” Medications can also double as prevention, reducing transmission of HIV to sexual partners by an astounding 96 percent.
But catching HIV early is dependent on awareness. That’s why hundreds of young people are calling on the U.S. government to formally recognize National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day. According to the Huffington Post, the awareness initiative’s creators want Americans to “take a close look at the current reality of HIV and AIDS — and that means listening to, involving and prioritizing young people.”
Forty percent of new HIV infections around the globe are made up of young people. That’s why the creation of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day is so imperative. Activists can use promotional AIDS awareness items to “promote HIV testing, fight stigma and start the necessary and uncomfortable conversations we need to deal honestly and effectively with the challenges we face.”
Lawrence Stallworth, II of Advocates for Youth asserts that “Young people are not going to stand on the sidelines as this disease ravages our communities, our loved ones or our futures.” And that’s why he and his associates have declared April 10 National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day.
Will you help Stallworth support this important initiative?