What is it?
Worlds AIDS day was the first ever global health day, established in 1988 and it takes place on the 1st of December every year. The aim is to raise awareness of AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died due to HIV-related causes.
A pronounced history of stigma is attached to HIV/AIDS, which stems from both a lack of awareness for understanding the disease, and transmission of disease. The misinformation about the causes of disease, has led to social and cultural prosecutions affecting suffers in several societies, thus the awareness day aims to provide the opportunity to educate the public about such pressing issues.
HIV vs AIDs
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that damages the cells in your immune system and weakens the ability to fight everyday infections and diseases. The most advanced stage of HIV infection is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which can take from 2-15 years to develop if the HIV is not treated. This can be defined by the development of certain cancers, infection and other clinical manifestations.
According to UNAIDS, approximately 37.9 million people globally, have HIV/AIDS in 2018. Of these, 36.2 million were adults and 1.7 million were children (<15). The incidence of HIV in 2018 was estimated around 1.7 million; 1.6 million were 15 and older and 160,000 cases were among children aged 0-14. The vast majority of people living with HIV are located in low and middle-income countries, with an estimated 68% living in sub-Saharan Africa.
AIDS related deaths has reduced significantly since 2004 and as a result of better treatment access, preventative methods and most of all education. In 2018, 770,000 people died from AIDS-related illness worldwide, compared to 1.2 million in 2010 and 1.7 million in 2004 .
HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids that include blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids and breast milk. It’s not transmitted by air or water, mosquitoes, saliva or casual contact.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) treats HIV infection and it stops the virus replicating in the body by inhibiting certain enzymes. This doesn’t cure HIV, but it helps people live longer and healthier lives. There are different classes of ART therapy and they have different mode of actions. This means that a lot of individuals with HIV are on combined therapy to target the HIV virus. The difference classes of ART therapy are nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors, non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), integrase inhibitors, entry inhibitors, protease inhibitors and booster drugs. The aim of the combined therapy is to reduce individuals viral load to an undetectable level. By decreasing the viral load, it can reduce the risk of HIV transmission.
How to get involved?
Several ways that one can get involved in raising awareness, to promote the issues around HIV/AIDS and examples are listed below.
- Reaching out to local HIV service organizations to organise events such as helping out with special events, participating in fundraising events
- Engagement via social media tools, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
- Join the virtual HIV Activist network to fight for rights of people affected by HIV, and for better HIV education, prevention and testing
- UNIAIDS. Global HIV and AIDS statistics- 2019 fact sheet. https://www.unaids.org/en/resources/fact-sheet