There was a myth when I went to college that if you could contract mono by kissing. I contracted mono my junior year in college and the first thing my friends asked was, “Who were you kissing under the mistletoe?” The fact was I had not kissed anyone, but yet the rumor mill was “a buzz.”
The same myth has been going around and around for years about AIDS. The World AIDS Rock the Ribbon Survey found that “1 in 5 think people think you can acquire HIV through kissing. In addition, “Only 16% knew that if someone is on effective treatment, they can’t pass HIV on” and lastly, “people on effective treatment can expect to live a long and healthy life.”
This is the power of truth and one of the many reasons why World AIDS Day was established.
What is World AIDS Day?
World AIDS Day is a day to spread awareness of one of the worst pandemics in history. According to the United Nations UNAIDS, “there is an estimated 38 million people who have the (HIV) virus.” The virus was first identified in 1984, and since that time more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS related illnesses. World AIDS Day was first conceived in August 1987 by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Program on AIDS at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Each year, there is a theme chosen to activate the world toward the 2030 goal of ending new HIV transmissions. World AIDS Day 2022 is Equalize.
According to the Oxford dictionary, Equalize is verb that means “to make equal or standard.” Standardizing treatments for everyone. According to UNAIDS, in 2021, 54% of people living with HIV were women and girls. Bringing equality to how people are treated no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, how they choose to identify, who they choose to love and/or how they choose to express that love. Standardizing education. Equal access to treatment. Equal access to the truth.
On December 1, World AIDS Day, think about placing a red ribbon on your shirt, sweater or coat. And when someone asks why you have it there, “equalize” by sharing some of the information shared above. Because together we can make AIDS standard practice. So, no…you will not get HIV from kissing anyone under the mistletoe.
Christine M. Ziemba
Director of Engagement Services