As one of the most talked-about medical health concerns of the past few decades, HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, has come to symbolize many things for many different people. To some, HIV represents a frightening and unknown threat which they prefer to attempt to forget about or brush aside, while to others, it calls to mind the struggles endured by those living with HIV. While the first few years following the discovery of HIV provided little to no medical assistance for those who contracted the infection, modern methods of treatment, though not comprising a definitive cure, are often able to vastly improve quality of life and extend the lifespan considerably. Like many medications, however, drugs indicated for HIV positive people are costly, and many of the nations most profoundly affected by the disease are unable to afford adequate supplies. Despite many major breakthroughs on both the medical and the social fronts, HIV remains a difficult and highly contentious issue for some people, and it is clear that continued and renewed efforts to educate the general population about the virus and to support those living with it can go a long way towards conquering this human health issue.
In many parts of the world, including developed nations, people living with HIV are stigmatized, especially by those whose poor understanding of the virus leads them to believe that harmless contact may result in transmission. Working to overcome such false ideas, scores of social advocacy groups and support groups for HIV positive people themselves have participated in informational campaigns, which not only serve to help people understand the virus, but which help prevent growing rates of transmission, as well. Some HIV positive groups focus solely on providing support and caring for people with HIV, including those who have just learned about their infection. Such groups, whether incorporating types of professional psychotherapy or counseling or conducted in an open format, are often able to help HIV positive people work towards enjoying their lives and social connections while avoiding potential mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.
There is a great deal of good that funding can do for those who are affected by HIV, and global efforts are increasingly made to help divert funds to those areas which need it most. But coming to terms with the reality of HIV positive life is often something which money can’t buy, and which can be meaningfully fostered and facilitated through extensive social and moral support. When communities come together to discuss the challenges –and successes– of living with HIV, those who face the virus on a daily basis as well as their families and friends can overcome the mental, emotional, and social difficulties of this virus, showing themselves and the world that until a definitive and inexpensive cure is found, many of the millions of lives affected by HIV will still prove strong, full, and joyful.
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