World AIDS Day, held on the 1st December each year, aims to raise awareness of AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. Here are a few facts you must know about HIV/AIDS.
New Delhi: Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, continues to be a global major health issue. Globally, WHO data shows that there were approximately 36.9 million people living with HIV at the end of 2017, with 1.8 million people becoming newly infected in 2017 worldwide. World AIDS Day, which takes place on the 1st December each year, aimed at raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. The theme for 2018 World AIDS Day is ‘Know your status’, encouraging everyone to know their HIV status.
According to UNAIDS, there has been significant progress in the AIDS response since 1988, and today three in four people living with HIV know their status. However, latest UNAIDS report shows that we still have long miles to go, including reaching people living with HIV who do not know their status as well as ensuring they are linked to quality care and prevention services. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people across the world to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with the dreaded condition, and to commemorate those who have died from the disease.
What is HIV/AIDS? Key facts to know
- HIV is the virus that causes HIV infection. It targets the immune system and weakens people’s defence systems – specifically the CD4 cells, often called T cells – against infections and some types of cancer.
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the most advanced stage of HIV infection and is characterised by a CD4 cell count of less than 200 cells per cubic millimetre. Healthy individuals have a CD4 count of 500 to 1,500 per mm3. Left untreated, HIV can gradually destroy the immune system and advance to AIDS.
- HIV is transmitted via contact with the blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, or breast milk of a person infected with HIV. As per WHO, people cannot become infected through ordinary day-to-day contacts such as kissing, hugging, shaking hands, or sharing personal objects, food or water.
- Early symptoms of HIV include – fever, chills, sore throat, skin rash, nausea, general aches and pain, headache, upset stomach, etc. As the infection progressively weakens the immune system, individuals can develop other symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, diarrhoea.
- Without treatment, people with HIV could also develop severe illnesses such as tuberculosis, cryptococcal meningitis, severe bacterial infections and cancers such as lymphomas and Kaposi’s sarcoma, among others. There is no cure for HIV infection, however, effective treatment can control the virus and help patients enjoy healthy, long and productive lives. Treatment for HIV infection is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART is recommended for everyone who has HIV. HIV medicines can also help prevent or reduce the risk of transmission.
World AIDS Day 2018 will be observed on December 1. This year, World AIDS day will be celebrating its 30th anniversary. The theme this year is “Know your status”. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, there has been a significant progress inHIV/AIDS response since 1988, wherein 3 in 4 people with HIV know their status. However, it is still a long way to go as the need is to reach all those people who are living with HIV and don’t know their status. It is important to ensure that all these people get quality care and prevention services.
Human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a life-taking dangerous condition. HIV is a virus which damages the immune system of the body. The immune system helps the body to fight infections and diseases. CD 4 cells are the kind of immune cells which are infected and killed by HIV. Overtime, HIV kills more CD4 cells, thus making the body prone to various kinds of infections and cancers.
AIDS is caused by people with HIV. It occurs at the most advanced stage of HIV. It is important to know that a person who has HIV will develop AIDS. The immune system is severely compromised in case of AIDS. It is so weak that it cannot fight any disease or infection and makes a person extremely vulnerable to infections and diseases.
HIV testing is important to know your status, for expanding treatment and ensuring that all people with HIV are able to lead a healthy and productive life. The idea is to empower people to protect themselves and their loved ones.
However, the deterrent here is that there is a lot of stigma and discrimination regarding an HIV test. People are mostly concerned about confidential HIV testing. They get tested themselves tested only after becoming ill or experiencing its symptoms.
This World AIDS Day, let’s work towards raising awareness about the importance of knowing your status and end all stigmas related to HIV testing.
Happy World AIDS Day in advance everyone!