December 2010

December 2010

PAWs - Promoting Awareness and Wellness

Ashford University is proud to show you our PAWs. That is, our Promoting Awareness and Wellness initiative! Every month, we'll highlight different causes and opportunities that reflect the values of the University. You'll also learn ways that you can participate or be more involved.

December 2010

AIDS Awareness Month
About AIDS Awareness Month
AIDS Awareness Month begins on December 1 with World AIDS Day. This annual celebration aims to raise public awareness and dispel some of the unwarranted stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS. There are many ways in which you can get involved and make a difference.

What can you do?
Know your HIV status. Get tested. To find a testing site near you, visit
Wear a red ribbon. Wearing a red ribbon is the international symbol of support for people living with HIV/AIDS. This simple and effective way to show support raises awareness and fights stigma and prejudice.
Get involved. Opportunities are available at the global, federal, and local level.

  • For ideas on how to offer global support via fundraising, campaigns, and other events, visit
  • For information about federal resources such as conferences, policies, and PEPFAR (US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), visit
  • For local support opportunities and for detailed information about the current programs and research regarding AIDS, visit
  • To learn more about participating in World AIDS Day, visit

Whether you join a walk on World AIDS Day, wear a red ribbon in solidarity, get tested for HIV, join a group, or attend a conference, you will help raise awareness. Community and global awareness remains as important today as it did 31 years ago when HIV/AIDS was first recognized.

Understanding HIV/AIDS
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, is similar to other viruses, like the flu or the common cold. The most important difference between HIV and other viruses is how the human immune system operates. While the immune system fights to clear most viruses out of the body, this is not the case with HIV. Scientists continue to research in an effort to understand why the immune system cannot rid itself of the HIV virus. Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, is the final stage of the HIV infection. People at this stage have severely damaged immune systems, which puts them at risk for opportunistic infections (OIs).
Scientists have identified the origins of HIV to a type of chimpanzee in West Africa. They believe the chimpanzee version of the immunodeficiency virus (called Simian Immunodeficiency Virus or SIV) was transmitted to humans and mutated into HIV. It is assumed that this transmission occurred when humans hunted these chimpanzees and came into contact with their infected blood.
To learn more about the history of HIV, click here.

Awareness in Action

NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt
The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt is an enormous quilt created in memorial to the lives of people who have died of AIDS-related causes. Weighing approximately 54 tons, it is the largest piece of folk art in the world as of 2010. The quilt, which is over 1,290,000 square feet, contains more than 40,000 panels, and each panel memorializes a person lost to AIDS. To view the entire quilt, assuming you spent no more than one minute per panel, it would take you over 33 days. For more information about the AIDS quilt, visit

The Affordable Health Care Act
Historically, people living with HIV/AIDS have experienced difficulty in obtaining private health insurance, and have faced barriers to obtaining care from qualified providers. Consistent with the goals of President Obama's National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the Affordable Health Care Act makes considerable strides in addressing these concerns and in advancing equality for people living with HIV/AIDS. To read an article that discusses how the Affordable Health Care Act impacts people living with HIV/AIDS, click here.

Dispelling Myths
While there have been great strides in the prevention of HIV transmission and the care of people living with HIV/AIDS, many people still have questions about HIV and AIDS.

HIV/AIDS Statistics - Did You Know?
In November 2009, the latest statistics of the global HIV and AIDS epidemic were published by UNAIDS, and refer to the end of 2008. Below are a few of those statistics:

  • According to the US Center for Disease Control, one in five people living with HIV are unaware of their infection – that's 21%.
  • HIV is increasing in every region of the world.
  • There were 2.7 million people newly infected with HIV in 2008.
  • There are 33.4 million people living with HIV worldwide: 31.3 million adults and 2.1 million children under the age 15.
  • Women account for 50% of all adults living with HIV worldwide.
  • More than 25 million people died of AIDS between 1981 and 2008.

Truths about HIV/AIDS
The truth about the spread of HIV:

  • Not using a condom when having sex with a person who is infected with HIV/AIDS is the primary way HIV is spread.
  • Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment used to prepare illicit drugs for injection is another primary mode of transmission.
  • Having multiple sex partners increases the likelihood of infection.
  • The presence of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can increase the risk of infection during sex.
  • Unprotected oral sex may risk HIV transmission, but carries a lower risk than anal or vaginal sex.
  • HIV can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breast-feeding.

For a more in-depth discussion of how HIV is spread, click here.
The truth about HIV symptoms:

  • In over 70% of cases, symptoms develop approximately 10 days after infection, and usually include a simultaneous fever, rash, and severe sore throat.
  • These early symptoms disappear after two or three weeks and a person can seem healthy for a number of years.

There is no cure for HIV.

  • If you become infected with the virus, you will always carry it in your body.
  • HIV is a type of virus called a retrovirus, and the drugs used to treat it are called antiretroviral medicines. These powerful medicines control the virus and slow the progression of HIV infection, but they do not cure it.
If you become infected with the virus, you will always carry it in your body.

Misconceptions about HIV/AIDS
HIV cannot reproduce outside the human body. It is not spread by:

  • Air or water.
  • Insects, including mosquitoes.
  • Saliva, tears, or sweat.
  • Casual contact like shaking hands or sharing dishes.
  • Closed-mouth or "social" kissing.

AIDS Home Page. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2010 from the AIDS.Gov website,

Basic Information about HIV and AIDS. (August 11, 2010). Retrieved November 8, 2010 from Center for Disease Control and Prevention website,

Do Something Page. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2010 from the World AIDS Day website,

Federal Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2010 from website,

HIV/AIDS Home Page. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2010 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website,

How Does the Affordable Care Act Impact People Living with HIV/AIDS? (2010). Prepared for USCA. Retrieved November 9, 2010 from

Join in Facing AIDS for World AIDS Day. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2010 from website,

The AIDS Memorial Quilt. (2007). Retrieved November 9, 2010 from The NAMES Project Foundation website,

UNAIDS TODAY homepage. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2010 from UNAIDS website,

Worldwide HIV & Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2010 from the AVERTing HIV and AIDS website,

Additional Resources for Further Research
When HIV Becomes AIDS (HIV #2). (2007, December 14). YouTube. Video retrieved November 8, 2010 from

I Have AIDS, A Teenager's Story. (2006, June 18). YouTube. Video retrieved November 8, 2010 from