Many perceive the 1st of December as the bridge to what may be considered the upcoming Christmas period, others see it as the turning point to finally tear out the calendar’s last, umpteenth page, but not everyone associates this date with World AIDS Day. An occasion to raise awareness for those who ignore, to support as well as unite the globe’s hidden souls who look for a hand to be held and to remind the disease’s unfortunate presence still today in the 21st century.
In occasion of this global initiative, the student’s association “B.E.St – Bocconi Equal Student” hosted last Tuesday an insightful conference focusing on the disease as a whole. Such a delicate theme was thoroughly discussed during an active debate between Professor Salvio Vicari, president of the “Community & Social Engagement Committee”, Gianmaria Vidoni, director of Milan’s centre for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases and a representative directly from “Lila”, that is “Lega Italiana per la Lotta contro l’AIDS”. The debate was then followed by the projection of the Oscar-winning movie “Dallas Buyers Club”. The American biographical film explores the difficulties encountered by an AIDS patient diagnosed in the 1980s when the illness had no effective treatments and was subject to racial discrimination, for example before the protagonist’s return in the United States he is given the advice “that if asked at the border whether [he] has AIDS, to answer no or else [he] would not be let back in the country”.
Such terrifying episodes unfortunately took place not so long ago and still today it is commonly thought that the virus is exclusively transmitted through male homosexual intercourse although the causes can be many more. As the same hosts pointed out during the meeting this can happen through syringes, unprotected heterosexual relations, an infected mother breast-feeding her child or through blood contact. Such information might sound new or unfamiliar, reason why it is important to have a basic knowledge of the disease, including its irreversible effects, and consider prevention. HIV, which then develops into AIDS, for instance strikes the human immune system, drastically reducing one’s white blood cells. As the astonishing statistics mentioned during the conference confirm, more than 4000 people in Italy are annually diagnosed. Although the so-long attended cure may not yet exist, it is crucial for us as a global community to continue spreading the word, collect funds for the numerous associations and most of all sustain societies such as Lila in continuing to raise awareness and encourage prevention.