Today is World AIDS Day. HIV/AIDS is the greatest pandemic of recent times, with over 33 million people around the world living with HIV/AIDS, and the number is increasing every year. Half the number of people living with HIV/AIDS are women and girls.

According to United Nations Population Fund World AIDS clock, another person contracts HIV in every 12 seconds, and in every 16 seconds, one more person dies from AIDS. This means that by the time you read this paragraph, someone is living with, and dying from this disease.

Beliefs and responses based on misconception, ignorance and prejudice are the greatest contributor to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Many people still believe that it only affects men who have sex with men, sex workers or drug addicts. All behaviours which already hold stigma in many societies. Fear of infection also leads to people living with HIV/AIDS being rejected from their families and communities, faced with discrimination and sometimes even physical violence. This can result in reluctance in testing, fear of disclosure on HIV status or unwillingness to address the disease through treatment.

Little awareness is given to the different and complex dynamics that contribute to the expansion of this disease, such as social sanctioning of men to have multiple sex partners, negative connotations associated with women and girls who negotiate condom use in intimate relationships, violence against women, poverty and lack of information and education opportunities particularly affecting women, and the interconnection between different forms of social, economic and identity-based discrimination with HIV/AIDS.

Women are often the first member of the household to discover their status through testing during pregnancy, and as such, can result in blame by partners or members of their family. Such blame can catalyse violence in the family, rejection, and tolerance to the partner in seeking other sexual partners. Women living with HIV/AIDS who hold primary responsibility in supporting their families may be unwilling to continue treatment to be able to continue to receive State-based grants based on their HIV status.

Violence against women affects women living with HIV/AIDS in particular ways. Marital rape and child sexual abuse can directly contribute to the spread of the disease. Situations of domestic violence also mean that women have little power to negotiate for safer sex through condom use. These are often silent and hidden crimes, where survivors have to overcome various barriers from shame and stigma to lack of legal recourse before being able to confront the possibility of infection and to manage treatment.

How much do you really know about HIV/AIDS? What kinds of beliefs or values do you associate with the disease and people living with HIV/AIDS that contributes to its continued transmission? How can we take back the tech and stop the stigma?

Take Back The Tech! Take part in a text mob against HIV/AIDS related stigma!

  • At 12.00 noon, wherever you are, send a message to 10 people about HIV/AIDS.
  • You can use twitter, SMS, email, IRC channel, forums, blog comment, call in to a radio programme or any communication channels you have access to.
  • We've come up with a few messages to help you get started:
  • Marriage does not mean automatic consent to sex. Stop HIV/AIDS! 1 Dec - (pass this on)
  • No condom no sex. It's about respect, not about shame. Stop HIV/AIDS! 1 Dec - (pass this on)
  • Poverty + violence spreads HIV/AIDS. End women's discrimination. Stop HIV/AIDS! 1 Dec - (pass this on)
  • Get tested. Get treatment. Get control. Stop HIV/AIDS! 1 Dec - (pass this on)
  • Ignorance + fear = stigma. Get facts. Stop HIV/AIDS! 1 Dec - (pass this on)
  • Publicise this call on your blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, myspace, instant messenger status etc, and grow this text mob.

Organise with your friends, networks and community. Spread the word & amplify the buzz.

This is a really simple action, and yet really powerful if lots of people take part in it. So join the text mob & take action on World AIDS Day!