World AIDS Day 2014: What will you do?

The 1 December is just around the corner and it can mean only one thing: time to get out the red ribbons! This year for World AIDS Day and European HIV Testing Week we’re part of the movement across Scotland asking individuals, organisations and politicians: What Will You Do?

There’s a lot we can all do to prevent new cases of HIV (the virus that can cause AIDS), to challenge the stigma and prejudice that people living with HIV face, and to remember those who’ve died from AIDS-related illnesses since the 1980s.

So we’re hoping as many people as possible will join in and add #WhatWillYouDo and a ribbon to their Facebook or Twitter profile pictures, get ideas from across this site about things they can do, follow the campaign on Twitter or Facebook and share their plans and pictures using #WhatWillYouDo.

Though 1 December is World AIDS Day, AIDS isn’t something we talk about much in Scotland these days; it’s a medical term only used when HIV has really seriously damaged a person’s immune system to the point where they are very ill. It’s really rare for anyone to get that ill in Scotland now, thanks to improving HIV medication and increasing testing that means people are diagnosed and on treatment much earlier.

But while AIDS is less of an issue for people in Scotland than it once was, HIV certainly hasn’t gone away. Last year 354 new people were diagnosed with HIV in this country; that’s almost one each day. There’s a lot everyone can do to help prevent new cases, from knowing the facts about HIV and how it’s transmitted, to making sure you use condoms, never sharing injecting kit, and getting tested regularly if you think you might be at risk.

Another simple thing we can all do is think about how it would feel to have HIV, and to challenge the stigma and prejudice that people living with HIV face. A good place to start is by learning some facts about HIV, like that it can’t be passed on by things like touching, kissing, sharing cups or toilet seats.

So this year, please join us and mark World AIDS Day and HIV Testing Week by asking yourself and people you know: What Will You Do?