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Kicking The Month Off With Aids Awareness And Handwashing

December is a month in which everyone celebrates something. If it isn’t Christmas, it’s Hanukah or Kwanza or Festivus For The Rest of Us. With an unusual amount of socializing that happens during the month of December, I would like to turn your attention to two events that are typically recognized at the beginning of the month that can help keep you and your loved ones healthier year-round.

World AIDS Day December 1st

World AIDS Day is always on December 1st. However, the issue is one that is here every day of the year. In fact according to worldaidsday.com, “Globally, there are an estimated 36.7 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition.”

We do need to remember that this is a pandemic and that “More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV today, and 1 in 7 of them don’t know it.” https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/statisticsThose that don’t know they have the disease are likely to be the ones who continue to spread it through their ignorance.

According to hiv.gov, “World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.” https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/statistics  They go on to add that, “World AIDS Day may be once a year, but you can still support people living with HIV all year round.”

National Hand Washing Awareness Week Dec. 3rd  To Dec. 9th

We all know how important handwashing is to hygiene. But, it was just 200 years ago that a Hungarian physician by the name of Ignaz Semmelwies saw how handwashing prevented the spread of disease. Unfortunately many doctors’ egos got in the way and they refused to wash their hands between surgeries. Later on, Florence Nightingale also recognized the importance of handwashing in curtailing the spread of disease. Again, the information was ignored. Sadly, it wasn’t until much later that handwashing was taken seriously. According to globalhandwashing.org, “It was not until the 1980s, when a string of foodborne outbreaks and healthcare-associated infections led to public concern that the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified hand hygiene as an important way to prevent the spread of infection. In doing so, they heralded the first nationally endorsed hand hygiene guidelines, and many more have followed.” https://globalhandwashing.org/about-handwashing/history-of-handwashing/ 

The goal of National Handwashing Week is to “decrease the spread of infectious diseases by empowering individuals to educate and help protect their communities.” It is always held in December because this is a busy time for most people. According to one source, “Between the rush of the holidays, the end-of-the-year excitement, and the turn in the weather, it’s easy to become run down and exhausted—perfect conditions for illness to take hold. When your system is compromised, it’s extra important to stay healthy by avoiding germs, and the best way to do that is by washing your hands. By keeping up with these good habits, you can easily decrease your risk of flus, viruses, and the common cold.” https://www.normgroup.org/celebrate-national-handwashing-awareness-week/

When should you wash your hands? 

Most people are good about washing their hands when they use the restroom or are about to prepare food, but there are many other moments throughout your day in which a good washing will go a long way. For example, if you’re caring for someone who is sick, about to or just finished treating a wound, cleaning up after a child or changing a diaper, in contact with animals or their waste, or just took out the trash, you should absolutely wash your hands. All of these everyday activities could spread germs and disease, so make sure to wash up!

Happy Healthy Holidays To All

May you and your loved ones have a happy, healthy holiday season. And may your New Year be filled as well with health and happiness.