Not everyone, who becomes infected with HIV, originates from a ‘High Risk’ group. The common usage of the words ‘high risk’, in reference to people, who are most likely to become infected with HIV, has led many to believe misguidedly that they are not at risk. Unfortunately, this belief couldn’t be further from the truth.
Everyone is at risk of infection and worldwide infection rates show that HIV is infecting men, women and children of all ages. Millions of people, who were not considered to be ‘high risk’, are now infected. The outdated and inaccurate messages that continue to be broadcast contribute globally to a false sense of security.
People do not think that they are at risk. The pervasive message in the media states that HIV infections are highest among the ‘high risk’ groups of drug users and gay people. There is little reported about the steady, worldwide climb of the disease among those, who are not considered to be at ‘high risk’.
Safe sex messages and condom promotion are effective strategies. However, everyone needs to be informed of the mounting evidence, which shows that HIV is thriving outside of ‘high risk’ groups.
Both heterosexuals and homosexuals are being infected. In addition, individuals, who are not promiscuous and not drug addicts, become infected. One encounter with someone, who is HIV positive, can lead to infection. A person with just one sexual experience can become infected.
It is more and more likely that those, who are not infected, will encounter individuals who are infected. UNAIDS and WHO estimate that approximately 33.2 million people are infected with HIV around the world. Unknown numbers of individuals are unaware that they are infected with HIV and unaware that they may infect others.
We are failing to inform people properly. Sending the message that HIV infections occur in ‘high risk’ groups leaves many to believe that they have no concerns for safeguarding their own health. Anyone, who engages in sexual activity without a condom, risks infection.
Educating the public about the real risks is a better HIV prevention strategy.
By Bradford McIntyre
HIV+ since 1984
Source: Positively Positive, Canada