WHAT IS WORLD AIDS DAY?
World AIDS Day takes place on 1st December every year. It is an annual opportunity to unite and fight against HIV and mourn the people who died of the disease. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day. Globally, there are estimated 37.8 million people who have the virus and more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS. This has made AIDS the most destructive pandemics in history. We still have around 6000 people who are diagnosed with HIV and people who do not know about how to prevent HIV. World AIDS Day is, therefore, very important for the public as well as for the government to create awareness against this stigma, that still prevails in the society.
World AIDS Day 2017 campaign is promoting the theme “RIGHT TO HEALTH”. This year, government is focusing on the needs of the people living with HIV and those who are vulnerable and affected by the epidemic, to reach the goal of universal health coverage. Under the slogan “Everybody Counts“, WHO is giving the access to safe, effective medicines including diagnostics, and other health commodities to people in need, keeping in mind the financial risks as well.
The key messages to achieve universal coverage are:
- Leave no one behind.
- HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis services are integrated.
- High-quality services are available for those with HIV.
- People living with HIV have access to affordable care.
- The HIV response is robust and leads to stronger health systems.
Let us now know what is HIV/AIDS, in order to know well about this.
WHAT IS HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is a virus that attacks the CD4 cells of the immune system. By destroying CD4 cells, HIV makes copies of itself in the body. The loss of CD4 cells makes it difficult for the body to fight against infection or certain cancers. This means someone living with HIV, who is not receiving treatment, will find it harder and harder to fight off infections and diseases.
WHAT IS AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome. It is the most severe phase of HIV infection. AIDS is not a disease but a series of symptoms caused by HIV virus. A person who is said to have AIDS has a very weak immune system to fight off infection and thereby, increasing the risk of severe illnesses called opportunistic infections. This is the last stage of HIV. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS.
WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF HIV?
The three stages of HIV infection are :
- ACUTE HIV INFECTION STAGE : During the early period of the infection, people develop flu-like infection. Symptoms can include fever, swollen glands, sore throat, rash, muscle and joint aches and pains, and headache. This is called “acute retroviral syndrome” (ARS) or “primary HIV infection.” This is the acute stage of HIV virus. During this stage, large amounts of virus are being produced in your body. The virus uses CD4 cells to replicate and destroys them in the process. This affects the immune system, thereby making it difficult for the body to fight infection. At this stage, a person is at a high risk of transmitting HIV through sexual or needle-sharing partners.
- CLINICAL LATENCY STAGE : After Acute stage, the disease moves on to Clinical Latency Stage. “Latency” means a period where a virus is living or developing in a person without producing symptoms. In this stage, the HIV virus continues to reproduce at a very low rate. If you take ART, you may live with clinical latency for decades and never progress to AIDS because treatment helps keep the virus in check. People at this stage are still likely to transmit HIV to others. The clinical latency stage lasts an average of 10 years, but some people may progress through this stage faster.
- AIDS : This is the final stage of HIV infection when our immune system is totally damaged. One is considered to have AIDS when he/she is infected by opportunistic illnesses regardless of the decline of the CD4 count. Without treatment, people who progress to AIDS typically survive about 3 years. ART can be helpful for people who have AIDS when diagnosed and can be lifesaving.
People living with HIV can acquire the stages of infection on different rates depending on the factors, their health condition, how much virus they are exposed to, treatment, cure or medications.
EARLY SIGNS OF HIV STAGE
Early infection includes acute symptoms such as:
- Night sweats
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
HOW DO HIV SPREAD?
HIV is spread through contact with certain body fluids from a person with HIV. These body fluids include:
- Pre-seminal fluid
- Vaginal fluids
- Rectal fluids
- Breast milk
There are various other causes of HIV Infection that can include:
- Unprotected Sex with an infected person.
- Needle-sharing with infected person.
- HIV Transmission while pregnancy, breastfeeding.
HIV cannot be spread through saliva, sweat, urine. You can’t get HIV by shaking hands or hugging a person, from contact with objects such as toilet seats, doorknobs, etc used by a person with HIV. HIV does not spread through the air or through mosquito, tick, or other insect bites.
IS HIV CURABLE?
No effective cure is available for HIV. But with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. Treatment for HIV is called antiretroviral therapy or ART. If taken properly, ART can prolong the lives of infected people. ART prevents HIV from multiplying and reduces the amount of HIV in the body. Having less HIV in the body protects the immune system and prevents HIV infection from advancing to AIDS. Since there is no cure available for HIV, but the proper intake of HIV medicines can protect the immune system from advancing to AIDS.
HOW CAN WE PREVENT HIV/AIDS?
There are many actions that can be taken to prevent HIV infection from getting spread to others. We can prevent HIV by:
- Limiting your number of Sexual partners.
- Never sharing needles.
- Using condoms the right way every time you have sex.
- Taking medicines to treat HIV.
This WORLD AIDS DAY, let us join hands to fight against the negative impact of HIV.
End HIV transmission.
This is an opportunity to show solidarity to millions of people infected by HIV worldwide. Your health care provider can help you provide with proper facilities in order to help you treat HIV, you can get an appointment at Radix Healthcare.