With all the talk about HIV and AIDS this month, you might be wondering if you, a regular citizen, can help such a big cause and make an actual difference. Well, it's much simpler than you think. Below, we run down seven things you can do right now to help break the stigma:
1. Read and learn about it online.
To participate in active change, you first have to be armed with the right information. A quick search on Google will give you medical research and quick fact sheets about the virus that will equip you with the basic knowledge to help you get by. You can either start with these facts on the virus by the World Health Organization or click through the pages of HIV Plus magazine for more in-depth discussions and topics.
2. Watch film and documentaries.
HIV and AIDS aren't very popular topics in mainstream media, which doesn't help the stigma surrounding it. However, there are many things you can watch about it when you want take a quick break from your usual Netflix and K-drama lineup. Here are a few film and documentary recommendations that you can go back to! Who knows, they might inspire you to produce one of your own.
3. Maximize the power of your social media accounts.
You don't need a large social media following to make a difference. A smaller social media following that's composed of people closer to you is actually a better audience since they are more likely to pay attention to what you're sharing. So the next time you find an article or video about HIV interesting, don't hesitate to hit that share button.
4. Support brands that contribute to the cause.
The difference that a big corporation can make to HIV awareness is obviously a far cry from what you can do by yourself. So while you educate yourself about the virus and gain more awareness, you can assist the companies with their power to do more. For example, MAC Cosmetics donates every cent they earn from the sale of their Viva Glam lipsticks to their AIDS fund, while Levi's Levi Strauss Foundation has been supporting many who are living with HIV/AIDS since the 1980s.
5. Flaunt the red ribbon.
The red ribbon is the international symbol for AIDS, and you can help it become more visible by wearing it or simply stamping it on your profile pictures. It's a neat conversation starter and a quick reminder to the people around you!
6. Talk about it.
The stigma around many topics typically root from our refusal to talk about them. Things like death, sex, and disease are some of our anti-favorites for conversation, yet we can't deny their importance. So whenever the topic of HIV comes up, don't be afraid to participate and share information that you've received from credible sources. Keep a positive attitude and drop titles of films and documentaries whenever appropriate, too!
7. Get tested.
Sure, you may think it's impossible for the results to be anything significant, but the goal is to normalize the act of getting tested regularly. Simply pick a free day and set an appointment with either a doctor or your preferred health center (here are a few recommendations!). It's not a complicated process, and you can even bring a friend or two if you feel awkward going alone.