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HIV Testing Day

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In the mood for Netflix & chill?

Hey, friends! Thanks for stopping by for another awareness blog post! I hope you’ve all been enjoying our awareness blog. I’ve certainly enjoyed learning about all the various causes and illnesses, and writing about them. The information has been useful in my personal life so much more than I anticipated it would be. It’s kind of weird, you know, how all of the sudden when you’re aware of something you start noticing it come up all the time. So far, I’ve managed to make myself look a lot smarter than I actually am. I’ll stop blabbering about the value of the blog in my personal life now and just get to the point. I know that’s what you’re all here for, anyway. Today is HIV Testing Day! So, obviously, we’re going to talk about that today. Because when it comes to your health, specifically your sexual health and safety, you really can’t be too informed or too careful.

National HIV Testing Day is observed every year on June 27th. National HIV Testing Day was designed to remind people to get tested at least once per year, depending on your sexual activity. The purpose of the day is to catch HIV early on because early detection leads to the best possible outcomes. People who are diagnosed and treated early can prevent serious complications, and often the disease does not progress into AIDS. The key is treating it early. Diseases are kind of like a snowball rolling downhill. At first, when they start out, they are small and slow, but the farther they get down the hill, the bigger and faster they get. You want to catch it when it’s still a slow and small snowball. That really goes for every disease. The stage a disease is in when it is detected is one of the greatest predictors of outcome. That’s one of the reasons we do this blog. We want to help our readers be able to catch things in early stages, either with their own health or the health of a loved one.

Now, lets start with the basics. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. HIV can lead to AIDS, if it is not prevented with treatment early on. HIV isn’t like other viruses. With most viruses, such as the flu, the body goes through the stages of the illness and then eventually the body fights off the virus and you return to your normal health. Unlike most viruses, the body cannot ever fight off the virus. This means that once you have HIV, you will have it forever. HIV attacks the body’s T cells, which are responsible for helping the immune system fight off anything that may be attacking the body, such as an infection. Over time, HIV depletes the number of T cells in the body. This makes it much harder for the body to fight off infection and disease. Eventually, it can make it impossible to recover from infections or diseases. The immune system becomes so weak that it may be overcome by opportunistic infections or cancers. This occurs in the final stages of HIV, which is AIDS.

There is no cure for HIV, but early detection and treatment makes it much easier to control. HIV is controllable when you get to it quickly. Even though there is no cure, there are medicines to treat and control the virus. The biggest treatment for HIV is a combination of medications called ART. ART stands for antiretroviral therapy. ART uses several different antiretroviral medicines to slow down how quickly the virus multiplies. The different antiretrovirals are much more effective when used in combination, than using just one of any of them. If ART is started quickly after becoming HIV positive, the therapy can significantly prolong the person’s life. It can also keep HIV positive people healthy. In addition, ART reduces the chances of transmitting the virus to others. With the use of ART, people who are HIV positive may live about as long as people who do not have HIV. That’s remarkable considering that in the 90’s, before ART was developed as a treatment, HIV could develop into full blown AIDS in a matter of a few years. Before this treatment, HIV was almost certainly a death sentence; it was only a matter of how long.

There are three stages of HIV. The first stage is called Acute HIV Infection. This typically occurs between two and four weeks after being infected by the virus. Stage one may appear to be flu, with very similar symptoms since this is the body’s designed response to a virus. People in stage one of HIV are extremely contagious because the bloodstream is flooded with the virus. The problem is that most people in stage one do not realize that HIV is causing them to feel ill, if they feel ill at all. Sometimes, people in stage one may not experience symptoms at all. Symptoms can also be very mild, and easy to overlook. This is why many people are unaware that they have contracted the virus.

The second stage of HIV is called Clinical Latency. Stage two is also called asymptomatic HIV infection or chronic HIV infection. In stage two, the HIV virus is still reproducing, but it does so very slowly. This stage may go start off without any symptoms or usual illnesses at all. Stage two can last up to a decade, sometimes even longer, but it can also last as little as a few years. This is another reason why many people are unaware that they have contracted HIV. It doesn’t necessarily become apparent until it has progressed to late stage two or early stage three. HIV can still be transmitted during stage two. People who know that they are HIV positive and are taking ART are much less likely to transmit the virus during stage two because there are low levels of the virus in the blood. As stage two progresses, the amount of the virus in the blood starts to increase, and the T cell count begins to decrease. As the virus level increases in the body, people may begin to have symptoms and feel ill. This occurs right before entering stage three.

Stage three of HIV is AIDS. AIDS is the most advanced phase of HIV. AIDS damages the immune system so severely that they become prone to opportunistic illnesses, which are often severe. Prognosis for a person with AIDS is around three years if they do not receive treatment. People with AIDS experience symptoms similar to the flu. This may be a persistent fever, chills, sweats, swollen glands, weakness, and weight loss. Stage three is diagnosed when the T cell count drops below 200 cells/mm. It may also be diagnosed due to opportunistic illnesses. People who are in stage three have a very high level of the virus in their blood and are extremely contagious.

Getting test is the only way to be sure that you have or do not have HIV. Knowing your HIV status is imperative to your health, and the health of your partners. The virus can also be transmitted if you share needles, or from mother to child. Knowing your status and the status of those that may expose you to the risk is imperative. Knowing your risk factors is also key in prevention. HIV testing is easy to attain. Remember that all medical tests are confidential so don’t be afraid that your status may get out. First off, Planned Parenthood provides testing, for free if you are unable to pay. You can also text your zip code to 566948 (KNOW IT). There are even at home testing kits now. There are a lot of places that have free testing days, too, especially on HIV Testing Day. You can also get tested through your general practitioner.

So, if you’re in the mood for a little Netflix and Chill, make sure that you and your partner get tested and know your status first! Wishing you all health, happiness, and safe sex… today and always! Catch you next week.

If you’re a first time reader, let me welcome you to the Personalized Cause awareness blog! Personalized Cause is an awareness accessory brand that specializes in all kinds of awareness ribbons, but we’re famous for our custom awareness ribbons. Custom awareness ribbons are a customer favorite because they allow you to personalize any color ribbon with the text of your choice. Our custom awareness ribbons are also unique because they don’t require a minimum quantity order. You can order just one awareness ribbon customized with the name, date, or message of your choice, or you can order a bunch, with all different customization. Whatever your awareness ribbon needs may be, we’ve got you covered. If you’re not in the market for a custom awareness ribbon, that’s okay, too! We also carry classic awareness ribbon pins, fabric ribbons, and silicone wristbands. As you can see, we’re passionate about raising awareness! That’s why we started this awareness blog. The Personalized Cause awareness blog is dedicated to educating our readers about as many causes as possible. We strive to create a more informed and compassionate community through our awareness pins as well as our awareness blog. I hope you’ll join us again next week for our next post!

Thanks for reading!

Red awareness ribbons are used to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS. To order a custom red awareness ribbon, visit:

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HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

Personalized Cause


It's HIV Vaccine Awareness Day!

Hey everyone! Hope you all had a relaxing weekend. I know I did. I’m having a serious case of the Mondays following all that sunshine and sleep. But, here I am, ready to work and learn a little something about today’s cause. Today is HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, and so today we’ll delve into the basics of the HIV virus and what a vaccine would mean. Today’s topic is complex, especially because it isn’t viewed with the same sense of urgency that it used to be, which means it doesn’t get the same attention necessary to create treatments or develop cures.

So what is HIV? HIV is a virus that, if left untreated, can eventually develops into AIDS. HIV affects the body’s ability to fight off invaders, such as infections or diseases. It is transmitted through bodily fluids, and it infects T cells, which are the body’s defense system. Left untreated, T cells in the body dramatically diminish, and the body is left vulnerable to opportunistic infections and diseases. There is a higher rate of certain cancers and diseases in those with HIV or AIDS. Without early detection and treatment the body is weakened, and over time it becomes unable to fight. This is when people succumb to the disease because of an inability to fight off an infection or disease.

A little history to start with. HIV is believed to have originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo way back in the 20’s, when it seems the virus spread from chimpanzees to humans. For decades there were almost no reported cases of the virus. Of course, back then, there was no awareness of the virus, and it didn’t even have a name, so it’s hard to be sure exactly how many cases there were. It was nowhere near the explosion of HIV/AIDS cases that the 1970’s and 80’s saw. In the beginning, doctors were only seeing the advanced stages of AIDS, and were unaware that the source of the illness was HIV. Most early cases were not even attributed to AIDS. It was discovered when gay men and intravenous drug users were being diagnosed with very rare infections and cancers at increased rates. Both the lung infection (called PCP) and the cancer (Kaposi’s Sarcoma) were rare enough that this sudden increase of cases drew attention. The cases seemed to be localized in metropolitan cities, and by the 80’s it had already spread across five continents.

At first, in the very early 80’s (I’m talking like ‘81 and ’82) cases numbered in the hundreds, and about half of the patients affected had died. By ’82, the pattern of sexuality amongst patients had become apparent, and so the disease was originally named GRID, meaning gay-related immune deficiency. Around the same time, blood transfusion patients and hemophiliacs began to be diagnosed with the disease, and so it was renamed AIDS, meaning acquired immune deficiency syndrome. In ’83, women and children had begun to be diagnosed with the disease. It was becoming clear that the women were having heterosexual sex with men who had contracted the disease, and then passing the disease to their children. Nearing the end of the year, the World Health Organization had a meeting to discuss the emergence of this new disease, and began tracking it on an international scale. By the end of that year, cases were in the thousands, again, with about a 50 percent mortality rate. In ’84, the retrovirus was discovered as the source of AIDS, and a blood screening was developed to test people for the presence of the virus antibodies. In ’85, the blood test was made commercial and they began screening blood in blood banks. By the end of the year, reported cases of AIDS had reached over 20,000. In ’86, the retrovirus was renamed HIV (previously HTVL-III/LAV), and conclusively recognized as the cause of AIDS. In ’87, it was discovered that the disease could be transmitted through breastfeeding. That year, a more precise HIV antibody test was approved by the FDA, and the first antiretroviral drug was approved for the treatment of HIV. By the end of that year, cases of AIDS had surpassed 70,000 worldwide, with over half of those cases being in the United States. Nearing the end of 1989, there were over 100,000 cases of AIDS in the U.S., and over 400,000 worldwide.

Progress was swift, and the 90’s saw refinement in tests and more effective treatment of the disease. Managing the disease was possible and the HIV diagnosis was no longer a death sentence. Unfortunately, the disease was still spreading at an alarming rate, with cases now in the millions. Think about that for a second. The disease went from numbering in the hundreds to the millions over the course of about ten years. That’s the epitome of an epidemic. As you can imagine, people were terrified, and sadly, there was a great deal of prejudice surrounding the disease. As more celebrities came forward about their battle with the disease, both gay and straight, stigma slowly (very slowly) faded and awareness was raised. The Red Ribbon Project was created in 1991, and that was the birth of the awareness ribbon as a symbol of support and tool for raising awareness.

Let’s get to the HIV Vaccine. Why do we need one? Aren’t there already drugs that are effective in preventing HIV? The answer to that is yes and no. There is a drug called PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, which can significantly lower a persons chances of contracting the virus if they are exposed, but not eliminate the risk entirely. The issue with PrEP is that it isn’t a viable option for everyone at risk. The drug is very expensive; a month supply without insurance is around $1,300. Even if the cost isn’t prohibitive, that doesn’t mean everyone has access to it, especially those who are at high risk of contracting the virus, like in Sub-Saharan Africa. Plus, every drug carries a risk of side effects, and the drug is only effective when taken every day without forgetting doses. Basically, the prophylactic option is nowhere near ideal.

A vaccine is the most promising and most cost effective way to prevent people from becoming HIV positive. Not to mention, it has the most potential for preventing the disease in countries where it is prominent. Prevention will always be preferable to treatment options. Although the disease can be well managed these days, not all treatments are effective for everyone, and people develop drug resistances. The goal is to have everyone vaccinated against it one day. Risk factors change, and even those who are diligent about using prevention methods can still contract the disease. Our greatest hope for eradicating the disease is a vaccine. Scientists have been testing potential vaccines for over a decade. Some have been promising, however, there are still no FDA approved vaccines for HIV. Scientists are getting closer all the time, though, and a vaccine may not be so far off. 2017 has seen a new vaccine, which is totally unique from previous vaccine attempts because it would protect against many different subsets of HIV, move to phase II trials in North America. Yay science! HIV Awareness Day is observed annually to call attention to the need for a vaccine and educate people on the important role it would play in ending the disease.

And now, as returning readers know, it is time for me to explain who we are and why we began this awareness blog. Hi! We’re Personalized Cause. We are the number one source for custom awareness ribbons in the U.S. What’s a custom awareness ribbon? Good question! We offer our customers the chance to engrave a cloisonné awareness ribbon with a name, date or phrase. Just as the red awareness ribbon changed how people showed support for those suffering from AIDS and raised awareness for the disease, our custom awareness ribbons aim to change the way we support those we care about by humanizing their cause. An awareness ribbon by itself says you support a cause, a personalized awareness ribbon says why you support that cause.

At Personalized Cause, we are all about raising awareness and supporting those around us. Our goal is to raise awareness for all sorts of causes with our blog, in hopes that one of these blogs may help to detect illness early or prevent illness all together. We carry all sorts of awareness ribbons and silicone wristbands, with the option for customization in all products. Our personalized awareness ribbons allow you to show the world why a cause matters to you. Custom awareness ribbons can be a silent but powerful show of support for someone facing a health crisis, or a way to inspire others to take action for a cause. The most powerful way to raise awareness is to show others why it matters to you.

AIDS and HIV are represented by a red awareness ribbon. If you would like to order a red personalized awareness ribbon, visit:

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