On December 1st, 1988, World AIDS Day was celebrated for the first time. HIV/AIDS had been discovered only seven years prior and had spread rapidly. Primarily, infection was appearing in gay and bisexual men, but infection affected all populations to some degree. Now, on December 2016, we are celebrating World AIDS Day and reminding a generation of men and women that were not even alive on the first World AIDS Day why awareness and education on HIV/AIDS is so crucial.  Millennials have this tendency to think we are invincible, but we are still susceptible to disease, and HIV/AIDS doesn’t care about your gender, your race, your political ideology, or your socioeconomic status once you are infected. Here are 18 things that millennials need to know this World AIDS Day.

  1. 36.7 million people live with HIV worldwide.

  2. The CDC estimates that 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the United States

  3. The CDC also estimates that 1 in 8 people living with HIV do not know they are infected

  4. HIV infection rates in general have been on the decline, by gay and bisexual African-African and Latino males have seen an increase in infections in the past two decades.

  5. HIV can be transmitted via sexual contact, sharing needles to inject drugs, and during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.

  6. HIV cannot be transmitted by saliva, sweat, tears, insects, or sharing toilets, food, or drinks.

  7. HIV affects all populations, but is most prevalent in gay and bisexual male and African-American populations.

  8. HIV is the virus that attacks the body immune system and reduces the number of T cells in the body

  9. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and is condition resulting from HIV.  

  10. You cannot rely solely on symptoms to know if you are infected by HIV, though flu-like symptoms are often observed within 2-4 weeks of infection.

  11. You can lower your risk of getting HIV through sexual contact by choosing less risky sexual behavior, using condoms, reducing your number of sexual partners, using HIV medication to lower your risk, and getting routinely tested for HIV and other STDs

  12. Anal sex is the riskiest type of sex for HIV transmission. Vaginal sex also carries a risk, but there is a little or no risk of getting HIV from oral sex.

  13. Having an STD can increase your chance of getting HIV or transmitting it to others

  14. Male and female condoms are both effective at preventing HIV but should not be used together.

  15. You cannot get HIV from donating blood or receiving donated blood. US regulations require the testing of each unit of blood and is extremely safe.

  16. PrEP is pre-exposure prophylaxis, a medicine taken daily by people who are HIV negative but want to prevent infection.

  17. Truvada is the market name for PrEP and can be prescribed by most doctors.

  18. STD and HIV testing are offered for free by most school health facilities and at local health departments.

You can learn more about HIV/AIDS at AIDS.gov, the CDC, the World Health Organization, or HRSA.  

Use this tool to find HIV testing sites near you.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member
Aryssa is a student at Yale University, where she enjoys worshiping the patriarchy, making sandwiches, and finding a husband. She loves wearing her FFL gear and documenting the horrific expressions that ensue for her scrapbook. When she is not being "oppressed" by the patriarchy, she enjoys Lilly Pulitzer and classic novels.

Image Credits: iStockphoto.com/Jill Chen