Wearing my red bow

Speaking of naked men and sex, today is World AIDS Day (way to make a bummer transition, huh?). So, you know me, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.

Aids (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a set of symptoms and infections resulting from the damage to the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV. This condition progressively reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and leaves individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections and tumors.

Now epidemics through infection are nothing new. They used to wipe out whole populations back in the days when no-one knew anything about vaccines, antibiotics and the like. But in our 21st century, we know about these things. Viruses usually don’t go wiping out anymore. In our days, the most common causes of death come from our unhealthy living forms (heart attack through high blood pressure or high cholesterol because of fatty eating, etc.). And this is where I come in. Sure, most people think disease has to do with medicine – give ’em a pill and they’re good to go. But as a psychologist I have a different view of things. You see, shrinks don’t just treat the “mentally insane”, they actually are involved as soon as something (even remotely) has to do with human behavior – especially the unhealthy kind. And, if you like it or not, psychology has to do with Aids. Three reasons:

  1. Aids is a result of irrational and absurd behavior (I’ll get to that in a minute).
  2. For the time being, Aids can neither be cured nor prevented by medicine.
  3. Aids can in most cases be prevented through psychological means.

To point one (and three): this might sound weird to most of you, but just think about the ways people get HIV. There are four possibilities:

  1. Unprotected sex (this counts for both hetero- and homosexuals, don’t get that wrong) of any kind (seriously – no exceptions).
  2. Sharing needles with your drug buddies
  3. Being the child of a HIV+ mother (i.e. getting it through the placenta or breast milk)
  4. Getting a contaminated blood transfusion

I agree that in cases of being a foetus or needing a transfusion, you can’t control what you’re getting. But even in those cases, the problem originates from the person with the blood or the mother having been in cases one or two – and those are definitely avoidable through more intelligent behavior. The majority of HIV infections are acquired through unprotected sexual relations between partners, one of whom has HIV. The primary mode of HIV infection worldwide is through sexual contact between members of the opposite sex. Let’s examine the easiest case: a person living in a first (or even second) world country has sex. The pandemic of Aids is preventable through two simple questions this person should ask themselves:

Have I had an HIV test?

If not: Am I using a condom?

IT’S THAT SIMPLE. And yet, so few people do it. So today, I’d like to motivate people to be aware, to promote less risky behavior and just to be less stupid. Then we can also avoid there being 33.2 million people living with the disease worldwide.


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