Editorial: Stop the spread of HIV/AIDS by getting tested

Since its discovery in the early 1980s, human immunodeficiency virus, also known as HIV, has remained one of the most feared illnesses.

Affecting millions worldwide, the killer virus demanded international attention as the single most feared virus of its era, nearly eclipsing other diseases.

Leading to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, the virus is one of the most deadly and prolific viruses in human history.

Throughout the late 20th Century, the virus seemed to work its way into every facet of pop culture, claiming the lives of celebrities such as Queen singer Freddie Mercury, ending the careers of athletes such as Los Angeles Lakers superstar Magic Johnson, and brought to the big screen courtesy of Tom Hanks in “Philadelphia.”

Of course, that was in its heyday.

Now, the media has shifted people’s attention to other illnesses, causing them to leave HIV/AIDS by the wayside as if it were no longer a big deal.

But to the families of about 800,000 to 900,000 Americans, the virus remains at the forefront.

Since it was discovered in 1981, about 450,000 Americans lost their lives to HIV/AIDS, according to the Illinois Department of Health.

Illinois ranks seventh in HIV/AIDS cases in the United States with about 30,000 cases since 1981.

And since then, nearly 16,500 people have died in Illinois alone.

When it was still an imminent and dire concern to the entire nation, movements and rallies sought to find a cure for the deadly virus and stop it once and for all.

Decades later, no cure exists.

A general apathetic feel since the 1990s has gripped America and shifted its attention away from the disease, removing any motivation to stop the disease.

To ignore HIV/AIDS is to enable it. While there may be no cure, that shouldn’t stop Americans from spreading awareness of the ever-relevant virus.

Today, free HIV testing is available through Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS and sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta.

Starting at 9 a.m. and lasting until 4 p.m., students can go to the Martinsville Room of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union and get tested for the virus that causes AIDS for free. This is an opportunity nobody can afford to pass up.

Go to the Union and get tested; it’s free, it’s 100 percent confidential and you might be saving more lives than your own.

Even if the virus in incurable, stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS is the first step in eradicating it.

The editorial is the majority opinion of The DEN editorial board. Reach the opinions editor at [email protected].