A diagnosis of HIV-positive status can be devastating -- so frightening that patients avoid it, deliberately not retrieving test results or engaging in other self-destructive behavior [source: PAETC]. But the truth is that HIV can often be managed, if the patient approaches the disease responsibly. To help patients do that, AIDS organizations provide information and emotional support.
Help can range from financial assistance to pay for medication to monthly support-group meetings. Some patients may have contracted the disease because of unsafe behavior; they may want to make major lifestyle changes or branch out to new groups of friends. AIDS organizations can help them find like-minded individuals and avoid future risks [source: ASG].
Other support is aimed at friends and family members of HIV patients. The people who care about a patient may have a lot of questions; they're likely curious about what the disease will do and how they can help the patient fight it. Also, they may have to deal with feelings of shame or betrayal. And, some could fear that they have been exposed to the virus.
AIDS patients, their friends and family members aren't the only people in need of AIDS Organization support. It can be difficult for health care providers to work exclusively with patients who have just received some of the worst news of their lives. Physicians treating patients who are in the later stages of AIDS may feel as though they're repeatedly going into battle against an untiring enemy. Support groups help physicians and clinicians muster the emotional and psychological strength to keep doing their necessary work. Support groups may also offer a way for health care providers to exchange information and ideas about helping their communities [source: MATEC].
AIDS menaces every human being on the planet. As one nonprofit says starkly, "If you don't think you're at risk, you're at risk" [source: Avert]. Worldwide, AIDS organizations are working to keep HIV from becoming a death sentence, and to ensure that sometime in the future the subject of AIDS will be taught only as a history lesson rather than a repeated topic in health class.
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Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Aegis. "Timeline: A Brief History of AIDS/HIV." 2002. (Accessed 5/7/09) http://www.aegis.com/topics/timeline/
- Aegis. "NIAID Fact Sheet: HIV/AIDS Statistics." July 1998 (Accessed 5/19/09)http://www.aegis.org/factshts/niaid/1998/niaid98_fact_sheet_aidsstat.htm
- AIDS/HIV Services Group. "About ASG." ASG. (Accessed 5/7/09) http://www.aidsservices.org/about_asg.htm
- American Red Cross. "Health and Safety Services: HIV/AIDS Programs." 2009. (Accessed 5/7/09) https://americanredcross.com/services/hss/HIVAIDS/index.html
- Avert. "AIDS History," "Why HIV/AIDS Education?" Avert. February 20, 2009. (Accessed 5/7/09) http://www.avert.org/aidseducation.htm
- Hartl, John. "How Hollywood portrays AIDS." MSNBC. June 5, 2006. (Accessed 5/7/09) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12856549//
- Howard Brown. "Walk-In Testing." Howard Brown Health Center. 2009. (Accessed 5/7/09) http://www.howardbrown.org/hb_services.asp?id=43
- Lyontos, Lynn Balster. "AIDS/HIV Education." ERIC Digest. (Accessed 5/7/09) http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-9212/hiv.htm
- MATEC. "Programs." Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center. 2009. (Accessed 5/7/09) http://www.matec.info/?page=pages&pContent=4
- Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center. "The Basics of AIDS Screening and Testing." (Accessed 5/7/09) http://www.sfaetc.ucsf.edu/resources/PDF/HIVTestingBasics_March2008.pdf