Knowing you are loved -- no matter what -- can make a world of difference to those living with HIV/AIDS and battling hurtful stigmas associated with the virus.
A new video by UNICEF is promoting unconditional acceptance for HIV-positive people with lots of warm hugs, tear-streaked faces and wide smiles. The video's message, spreading online through the #ShowYourLove hashtag, features young people writing encouraging messages, like "Love is everything," "Positive sympathy," and "Survivor," on chalkboards for the world to see. Other messages, such as "#GetTested" and, "If you love me, use condoms," highlight the realities of HIV in the 21st century.
It's no coincidence that the video, featuring Katy Perry's "Unconditionally," is targeting a younger audience. A study released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the annual diagnosis rate more than doubled for young gay and bisexual males over the last decade, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
"There’s a new generation that comes up, and many don’t have firsthand experience with the devastation we saw in the earlier years," the study's author, Amy Lansky, told the news source, referencing the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.
Although significant work is in order to reverse recent trends, the study also highlighted major progress within other demographics: Overall rates of new HIV infections in the U.S. dropped 33 percent over the same time period, with better screening and prevention initiatives largely to credit for positive strides.
To learn more about UNICEF's work combating HIV/AIDS, visit the organization's website.