Youth and HIV: Recognizing National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

The world is filled with awareness days, but one we should always highlight is National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day or NYHAAD is always observed on April 10.

This specific awareness day in the United States is a way to educate the community about the impact that HIV has on our youth today. This day brings awareness to both HIV treatment and prevention.

Today, it is estimated that there are more than 1 million youth between the ages of 13 to 24 in the United States living with HIV. Some of the highest rates within this age group identify as Black or Hispanic.1

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Breaking down the stigma by talking about the stigma

I believe that this awareness day is important to highlight within the community because HIV is still stigmatized. I know when I was growing up, no one in my family talked about it. We need to continue to break down these stigmas within our communities and have the difficult conversations that our family and friends do not want to have with their youth.

HIV is a preventable disease, which is why National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is important to highlight in both school and college campuses. Many young people are not aware of all the methods or tools they can use to help them stay protected.

Another reason people should raise awareness is because if untreated, HIV can progress to AIDS. AIDS can be a very serious and life-threatening illness, especially due to opportunistic infections.

I do not feel that there is enough education on the topic of HIV and AIDS, especially within underserved communities of color. HIV and AIDS are still stigmatized diseases, and we should work together to change that narrative. Many youths in the community are scared to get treatment or seek help because they are scared of being discriminated against for having HIV.

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Raising awareness on National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

A few ways you can help raise awareness are to stay engaged on social media platforms and educate yourself on the topic. You should do research on HIV transmission rates within your county and investigate what you can do to decrease the rates.

You can try to talk to your local schools and see how they can partner with local organizations to increase access to condoms or preventative measures. The easiest thing anyone could do is talk to your friends and family – start a conversation. A conversation can start the change that is much needed in your community.

HIV is considered a global epidemic, and things will not start to change until all of our communities are on the same page as us. We are all health advocates who want to ensure that we end the HIV epidemic. As advocates, we need to help one another not only push boundaries but also break down stigmas that have been around for a very long time. We must ensure that no more youth are being infected with HIV and continue to increase access to HIV testing to identify those who may not know their status.

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