The message for World AIDS Day 2013 is “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation”. World AIDS Day is about increasing awareness, fighting stigma and discrimination, improving education, and advocating for access to care, treatment, and support.
For social workers worldwide – World AIDS Day provides the opportunity to engage others in a critical global health issue. Across practice areas, social workers can advocate for change that challenges the barriers to comprehensive health and behavioral health services. World AIDS Day provides an opportunity to take action and ensure that human rights are protected for HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment.
HIV/AIDS impacts the communities in which social workers live and practice. The range of complex social, economic, environmental, and systemic issues – – all critical practice concerns for the social work profession – – are directly correlated with increased risk for HIV/AIDS and other co-occurring health and behavioral health risks: homophobia, lack of access to care, discrimination and stigma, lack of information, language barriers, immigration status, and the overwhelming impact of poverty.
Globally, the social work professional must continue our efforts for inclusion of HIV/AIDS issues into development efforts, emphasizing awareness, prevention, and care and treatment as priority areas to be actively included in organizational systems and policies.
Here are some ways to recognize World AIDS Day – and strengthen the social work response:
- Get tested for HIV: Get tested for HIV; practice safer methods to prevent HIV and decide not to engage in high risk behaviors.
- Talk about HIV prevention with family, friends, and colleagues and provide support to people living with HIV/AIDS.
- Complete the NASW Lunchtime Series Course: HIV/AIDS Update: Infusing HIV/AIDS Awareness Into Our Everyday Practice.
- Take the free NASW WebEd Course: Understanding HIV/AIDS: the Social Workers Role.
- Use the NASW HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project resources – specifically designed for mental health providers.
Posted by: Evelyn P. Tomaszewski, ACSW