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In a poignant comic, 10 people explain what it's like living with HIV.

'I firmly believe that without this diagnosis and the journey it has led me to make, I really would be a boring narrow-minded old fart.'

In a poignant comic, 10 people explain what it's like living with HIV.

In the sea of international causes we now observe, it may be easy to forget that World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day. What should not be easily forgotten, however, is how many it's affected in just three decades.  

According to the U.K. organization National AIDS Trust, since the virus was first identified back in 1984, over 35 million people have lost their lives to it. Today, an estimated 36.7 million people are living with HIV worldwide. But thanks to advances in medicine, especially in the last decade, infection rates are going down, and people who have the disease are living longer.

While that is ultimately good news, life with HIV/AIDS is not simple, even when you take away the added regular health management. There is still a heavy stigma around it that often affects people living with either condition. Most of this seems to stem from a lack of understanding about how HIV is contracted.


English illustrator Graham Johnson, together with National AIDS Trust, wanted to help reverse the stigma by introducing the world to actual people who were handed the HIV/AIDS diagnosis over the years. He illustrated 10 of their stories to show how the individuals behind the scary statistics keep living life, often fuller than they did before.

Here they are in chronological order, from the early 1980s all the way up to today.

All illustrations by Graham Johnson/National AIDS Trust, used with permission.

Of course, there are negative experiences in here, but the point is that they don't define these people. They're challenges to overcome, after which life ultimately moves forward.

Thanks to measures by National AIDS Trust and other HIV awareness groups, people living with HIV/AIDS don't face nearly as much judgment and discrimination as they did in the past. As long as any stigma remains, however, it's important to keep the conversation about the condition going until all fears are put to rest.

It's equally as important to keep supporting prevention methods. National AIDS Trust recently won a major lawsuit that declared the National Health Service in England can fund (and must consider implementing) the HIV prevention drug PrEP. This newer drug prevents HIV-negative people from contracting the virus and thus could help lower the number of new cases significantly. Government support for these discoveries is necessary for them to have any sort of impact.

The fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic is ongoing, but the more people and organizations who stand by those who've been diagnosed, the sooner the stigma around it will become a distant memory.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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