World AIDS Day

15 years ago I lost an uncle to an AIDS related disease.*

He had lived with HIV for 16 years (longer than I had been alive) before it actually progressed to the stage which classified as AIDS. I was 15 when this happened and it was at this stage that my sisters and I were told.

He was diagnosed with HIV in the late 70’s. No-one knew what it was or how it was transmitted, so when he was first diagnosed my grandparents were given some strict instructions about living with him – he was to eat off paper plates and with plastic cutlery so that everything could be thrown out after he used it. All his clothes and linen was to be washed separately to everyone else in the house. Handling of all of these things (if handled by anyone but him) were to be handled with gloves, and he should also never be touched with bare hands. Very unpleasant for all involved I’m sure.

I’m glad that we now know so much more about it and people don’t need to be treated like this anymore (although I do understand people’s fear to some extent).

To see the facts of HIV/AIDS visit worldaidsday.org

*Since AIDS is a disease which attacks the immune system, it itself is not fatal – ie no-one dies of AIDS. However a person with AIDS is unable to fight off diseases which an unaffected person’s immune system would easily fight off and the person then dies from that disease, rather than from AIDS. My uncle, for example, died from meningitis
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