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HIV And Health Disparities
HIV And Health Disparities
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HIV And Health Disparities

This video considers how HIV or human immunodeficiency virus can affect people’s bodies in the same ways, while affecting communities differently. HIV affects people’s bodies in the same way by attacking people’s immune systems and making it difficult for people to fight infections. Some communities have greater portions of their communities seriously affected by HIV. When some communities are more seriously burdened by a disease than other communities, this is called a health disparity. Read on to learn why health disparities exist.

Youth

Before we consider why some communities may be more affected by HIV than others, let’s get clear about what HIV is. You’ve probably heard the terms HIV and AIDS used together, which may have led you to believe they are the same thing, but in reality they are different. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, an illness that people are later diagnosed with when their immune system is so severely damaged by HIV that it is unable to fight off illness. HIV is considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD) because it can be transmitted through certain sexual behaviors. This means that HIV cannot be transmitted through behaviors like shaking hands, hugging or kissing. When HIV infects a person’s body, the virus begins to attack the immune system, which can make someone more likely to get sick from other germs. It can take many years for someone with HIV to develop AIDS. If a person who is HIV positive receives treatment, they may never develop AIDS.

 

Some communities have greater portions of their communities seriously affected by HIV. When some communities are more seriously burdened by a disease than other communities, this is called a health disparity. But what causes health disparities? When it comes to HIV, there are a few reasons why it may have a greater impact on some communities. In the 1980s, when HIV was first discovered, little was done to find a cure or treatment because people in power believed it only affected people who were gay, Haitian and/or transgender. Since the people in power were not gay, Haitian and/or transgender, HIV transmitted in these communities and led to the deaths of many people. This is an example of a health disparity caused by fears and biases, like homophobia, racism and transphobia. Treatments were finally developed after HIV was recognized as harming white people, such as Ryan White, who contract HIV from a blood transfusion. But these treatments were not available to everyone. Treatments were expensive and not affordable for low-income people. This is an example of a health disparity caused by classism or the idea that wealthier people deserve better health care. In addition, some people may not seek out health care, like testing and treatment, because they have experienced so much discrimination that they are afraid of seeking out health care. When homophobia, racism, classism and transphobia prevent people from getting the health care they deserve this creates and worsens health disparities.

FAQs

Can I get HIV from sharing drinks or food with my friends?

No! HIV is not like the common cold or the flu. You cannot get it from sharing food or drinks with someone who is infected. It also cannot be spread by shaking hands, kissing or hugging. HIV is spread through exposure to an infected person’s blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk. It is most commonly transmitted through sexual contact or sharing needles with someone who is infected.

How do I prevent HIV?

Like with other STDs, the only 100-percent effective way to avoid getting HIV through sexual behaviors is to abstain from vaginal-penile sex, oral sex and anal sex. Your next best bet is to practice safer sex, such as using condoms and/or a dental dam every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. You should also get tested regularly for STDs and HIV and ask your partners to do the same.

When does HIV become AIDS, and will you die from it?

When people are first infected with HIV, they often have no symptoms or very mild symptoms, which is why they must get tested to know for sure if they have HIV. Later, the virus can weaken the immune system, allowing specific infections and diseases to occur. At this point, the person is diagnosed with AIDS. People with an AIDS diagnosis still have HIV in their bodies, and if they have unprotected sex or share needles, they can transmit the virus to someone else.

 

Not all people with HIV develop AIDS. It’s impossible to say how someone’s body will respond to the infection, and there are different strains (kinds) of HIV. Over time, most people with HIV get a weakened immune system that makes them more susceptible to infections and diseases that people with healthy immune systems typically don’t get.

Parents

When your children understand HIV and health disparities, they will be less likely to hold common racist, homophobic and transphobic biases that shame whole communities and often prevent some people from seeking essential testing and treatment. One important step in ensuring young people understand HIV and health disparities is providing your children with basic, medically accurate information about HIV/AIDS.

 

Young people may have heard HIV/AIDS used together, leading them to believe they are the same thing, when they are different. HIV is the virus that can cause AIDS, and AIDS is the illness that can occur later when the immune system is no longer able to fight off infections. HIV is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can be transmitted from one infected person to another through certain sexual behaviors. Despite many myths that exist, the truth is that not all bodily fluids transmit HIV. The bodily fluids that can transmit HIV are semen, vaginal fluid, blood and breast milk. When someone is first infected with HIV, the person usually does not show any symptoms. This is why getting tested regularly is important. If someone is tested and they do have HIV, there are many medications that can help treat the symptoms of HIV and allow someone to live a healthy, symptom-free life for many years.

 

There is a lot of stigma around having HIV, and young people, like many adults, may have heard misinformation about HIV only affecting certain communities, such as the LGBTQ community. It is important for your children to understand that any person can be infected with HIV, but the virus has a greater impact on some communities. Parents can explain to their children that some communities have greater portions of their communities seriously affected by HIV. When some communities are more seriously burdened by a disease than other communities, this is called a health disparity.

 

There are a few reasons why HIV may have a greater impact on some communities. In the 1980s, when HIV was first discovered, little was done to find a cure or treatment for a disease that many believed only affected people who were gay, Haitian and/or transgender. Since the people in power were not gay, Haitian and/or transgender, HIV transmitted in these vulnerable communities and led to the deaths of many people. This is an example of a health disparity caused by fears and biases, like homophobia, racism and transphobia. Treatments were finally developed after HIV was recognized as harming white people, such as Ryan White, who contracted HIV from a blood transfusion. But these treatments were not available to everyone. Treatments were expensive and not affordable for low-income people. This is an example of a health disparity caused by classism or the idea that wealthier people deserve better health care.

 

In addition, some people may not seek out health care, like testing and treatment, because they have experienced so much discrimination that they are afraid of seeking out health care. When homophobia, racism, classism and transphobia prevent people from getting the health care they deserve, this worsens health disparities.

Ensuring children have a basic understanding of HIV and health disparities is one way to address racist, homophobic and transphobic ideas that blame whole communities for health disparities.

 

CONVERSATION STARTERS

 

If you start essential conversations about topics like HIV with your children, then they will know they can come to you with questions. The easiest way to start these conversations is to talk about issues as they arise in everyday life while you are doing things like watching TV together. Symptoms, testing and condoms may not just come up in conversation, but it is important to talk about these issues.

 

Here are some ways to start these conversations:

 

Can I get HIV from sharing drinks or food with my friends?

No! HIV is not like the common cold or the flu. You cannot get it from sharing food or drinks with someone who is infected. It also cannot be spread by shaking hands, kissing or hugging. HIV is spread through exposure to an infected person’s blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk. It is most commonly transmitted through sexual contact or sharing needles with someone who is infected.

How do I prevent HIV?

Like with other STDs, the only 100-percent effective way to avoid getting HIV through sexual behaviors is to abstain from vaginal-penile sex, oral sex and anal sex. Your next best bet is to practice safer sex, such as using condoms and/or a dental dam every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. You should also get tested regularly for STDs and HIV and ask your partners to do the same.

When does HIV become AIDS, and will you die from it?

When people are first infected with HIV, they often have no symptoms or very mild symptoms, which is why they must get tested to know for sure if they have HIV. Later, the virus can weaken the immune system, allowing specific infections and diseases to occur. At this point, the person is diagnosed with AIDS. People with an AIDS diagnosis still have HIV in their bodies, and if they have unprotected sex or share needles, they can transmit the virus to someone else.

 

Not all people with HIV develop AIDS. It’s impossible to say how someone’s body will respond to the infection, and there are different strains (kinds) of HIV. Over time, most people with HIV get a weakened immune system that makes them more susceptible to infections and diseases that people with healthy immune systems typically don’t get.

Educators

When your students understand HIV and health disparities, they will be less likely to hold common racist, homophobic and transphobic biases that shame whole communities and often prevent some people from seeking essential testing and treatment. One important step in ensuring young people understand HIV and health disparities is providing your students with basic, medically accurate information about HIV/AIDS.

 

Students may have heard HIV/AIDS used together, leading them to believe that HIV and AIDS are the same thing, when they are different. HIV is the virus that can cause AIDS, and AIDS is the illness that can occur later when the immune system is no longer able to fight off infections. HIV is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can be transmitted from one infected person to another through certain sexual behaviors. Despite many myths that exist, the truth is that not all bodily fluids transmit HIV. The bodily fluids that can transmit HIV are semen, vaginal fluid, blood and breast milk. When someone is first infected with HIV, a person usually does not show any symptoms. This is why getting tested regularly is important. If someone is tested and they do have HIV, there are many medications that can help treat the symptoms of HIV and allow someone to live a healthy, symptom-free life for many years.

 

There is a lot of stigma around having HIV, and students, like many adults, may have heard misinformation about HIV only affecting certain communities, such as the LGBTQ community. It is important for students to understand that any person can be infected with HIV, but the virus has a greater impact on some communities. Educators can provide lessons that help students understand that some communities have greater portions of their communities seriously affected by HIV. When some communities are more seriously burdened by a disease than other communities, this is called a health disparity.

 

There are a few reasons why HIV may have a greater impact on some communities. In the 1980s, when HIV was first discovered, little was done to find a cure or treatment for a disease that many believed only affected people who were gay, Haitian and/or transgender. Since the people in power were not gay, Haitian and/or transgender, HIV transmitted in these vulnerable communities and led to the deaths of many people. This is an example of a health disparity caused by fears and biases, like homophobia, racism and transphobia. Treatments were finally developed after HIV was recognized as harming white people, such as Ryan White, who contracted HIV from a blood transfusion. But these treatments were not available to everyone. Treatments were expensive and not affordable for low-income people. This is an example of a health disparity caused by classism or the idea that wealthier people deserve better health care.

 

In addition, some people may not seek out health care, like testing and treatment, because they have experienced so much discrimination that they are afraid of seeking out health care. When homophobia, racism, classism and transphobia prevent people from getting the health care they deserve, this worsens health disparities.

Ensuring your students have a basic understanding of HIV and health disparities is one way to address racist, homophobic and transphobic ideas that blame whole communities for health disparities.

Broach the topic when there is a sex scene in a show or movie

For example, if a sex scene comes up on TV, there is an opportunity to talk about whether the partners talked about safer sex or used a latex barrier, like a condom or dental dam. While you may be nervous about having these conversations, a simple, “Wow, do you think they’re worried about STDs or HIV?” is one way to start the conversation.

 

 

 

 

Walk up the aisle where condoms are when you’re shopping in a pharmacy

If you are shopping together in the market or drugstore, walk up the aisle where the condoms are hanging and ask your child if they know what condoms are and how they are used. Purchase a pack to take home and open so your child can see what they look like and how they are used.

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