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AIDS and HIV are not the immediate death sentences they once were. But of course, that’s no excuse for us to stay lax on practicing safe sex and being support for loved ones, co-workers and anyone in our circles that are living with the disease. Since 1988, World AIDS Day has been a national day of recognizing the impact of the virus. This year marks the 26th anniversary, and below are reminders of how you can commemorate this important day and know your own status.

MUST READ: Get Tested: Today Is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

World Aids Day was created by World Health Organization Public Information officers James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter in 1987 and would commence the next year and every year on December 1. As of 2013, 35 million people worldwide are living with HIV, and in the U.S., African-Americans make up 46 percent of those diagnoses since 2011. For Black women, in 2010, 6,100 were living with HIV and today remain 3 out of 10 new infections. In general, 1 in 5 Americans are not even aware they are infected. Statistics like these are scary and a resistance to get tested is plausible, but with so many clinics offering testing services and support groups available for the emotional aspect of the diagnosis, know that you won’t be alone in the process.

Google will get you going, but you can always just immediately go to Know Your Status Today, a comprehensive site with many resources. Also, do a quick Google search to find where your local testing clinics may be. There’s even a take home HIV test, created by OraQuick that you can take in the comfort of your own home. When you are ready for the results, it is best to have someone you love and trust by your side to help you cope with whatever the results may be.

If you are HIV free, they are ways to show love to those that aren’t. Annually, there are marches like the AIDS Walk in New York that you can participate in. See if your town has its own walk and walk for you or your loved ones. For the fashionistas out there, we know you probably already have a Viva Glam lipstick from M.A.C. in your makeup bag already. And that’s perfect because proceeds from that purchase backs their MAC AIDS Fund100 percent of sales from the lipsticks go to the charity and your favorites like Rihanna, Mary J Blige, Lil’ Kim, and Nicki Minaj have all been the beautiful faces of the charitable campaign. The fund has so far raised over $250 million!

To further support through funding, there is the website until.org boasted by prominent activist and humanitarian Hydeia BroadbentBroadbent is a HIV patient. She’s had the disease since she was three-years-old and at the age of 30, she is glowing example of perseverance. Currently, she’s the ambassador for the beauty brand Ampro® as a part of her “A Positive Message” campaign. If you make and Ampro beauty product purchase on the Until.org site use the code: HYDEIA, a portion of your purchase will be sent as a donation to HIV/AIDS charities.

Simply add a red ribbon (the international symbol for awareness) to your social media accounts, or even better, wear one as a pin on your clothes.

The fight for an AIDS-free generation has made terrific strides and more will be made with many dedicated doctors, everyday acknowledgment that those living with HIV and AIDS matter and our own responsibility of being safe. AIDS is not a gay problem nor is it something that only happens to the poorest tribes in Africa. It’s affecting us right here on our home front, so let’s continue to take better care of one another!

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