World AIDS day is celebrated every year on 1st December to generate awareness about AIDS. It was celebrated in 1988 as the first ever global health day. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV kills or damages the body's immune system. There are three main stages of AIDS.
There are two types of HIV - Type I and Type II. Type I is more common in India. According to WHO, HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 35 million lives so far. In 2015, 1.1 (940 000–1.3 million) million people died from HIV-related causes globally.
The theme for the year 2016 is “Access Equity Rights now”. The main objective is to work together and reach out to the people who still lack access to comprehensive treatment, prevention, care and support services.
Major Symptoms of AIDS:
Mouth or genital ulcers
Swollen lymph glands, mainly on the neck
Unexplained weight loss
Tendency to catch infections
Cough and shortness of breath
Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth
Soaking night sweats
Blurred and distorted vision
Major Causes of AIDS:
Sexual Contact: The most frequent mode of transmission of HIV is through sexual contact with an infected person
Using infected needles: HIV can be transmitted through needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood
Blood transfusion: In some cases, the virus may be transmitted through blood transfusion
From mother to child: A pregnant woman infected with HIV virus can transmit the virus to her foetus through their shared blood circulation. An infected nursing mother can also transmit HIV to her baby through her breast milk
Avoiding AIDS is as easy as ABC;
B= Be faithful
Spreading awareness amongst the masses
Using condoms to reduces the risk of HIV/AIDS
Using auto disposal syringes helps to prevent HIV infections
Choosing male circumcision which is the surgical removal of the foreskin (prepuce) from the human penis
Transfusing blood safely only from authorized and accredited blood banks
Counselling of HIV positive pregnant mother on the issue of how to prevent parent to child transmission (PPTCT)
Antiretroviral Therapy (ART)
There is no cure for HIV infection. However, effective antiretroviral therapy (ARV) can control the virus and help prevent transmission so that people with HIV, and those at substantial risk, can enjoy healthy, long and productive lives. Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) effectively suppresses replication, if taken at the right time. ART is now available free to all those who need it. Public health facilities are mandated to ensure that ART is provided to people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA). Special emphasis is given to the treatment of sero-positive women and infected children.
Fight against AIDS/HIV by wearing a red ribbon, the International symbol of HIV awareness and support.
AIDS Helpline (Toll Free Number) - 1097
Frequently Asked Questions
What is HIV?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS.
How HIV spreads?
The HIV spreads through body fluids:
Other additional body fluids that may transmit the virus that healthcare workers may come into contact with are:
Cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord
Synovial fluid surrounding bone joints
Amniotic fluid surrounding a foetus
What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.
How can I avoid being infected through sex?
In order to prevent infection of HIV/AIDS be faithful towards your sexual partner. The use of condoms is most effective method for preventing infection through sex.
Can injections transmit HIV infection?
Yes, infected needle transmits the infection. When you have an injection, make sure that the needle and syringe come only from a disposable package.
What are the chances of getting HIV infection if I want to have a tattoo or my ears pierced?
When you are having a tattoo or getting your ears pierced, there is a high risk of getting HIV infection. You should be very careful when you are going for a tattoo, ear piercing, acupuncture and dental treatment.
Is there any treatment for HIV/AIDS?
Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) is the best possible treatment of HIV/AIDS; it can lead a patient towards a better life.
Is it safe to work with someone infected with HIV?
Yes it is safe to work with infected person. HIV/AIDS does not spread through physical contact such as touching or shaking hands with an infected person. It is only spread by the sexual contact or through body fluids.
If a person becomes infected with HIV, does that mean he/she has AIDS?
No, it is not certain that everyone with HIV infection will get AIDS. The disease may develop gradually.
Is it mandatory to take HIV test?
No, it is not mandatory. However, it is desirable to undergo HIV test once in six months, especially when you are at a higher risk.
Who is at higher Risk?
Sex workers and their partners
Intravenous drug users
If I am HIV Positive, what should I do?
If you have been tested positive for HIV, consider the following:
Consult with your healthcare professional for a complete medical check-up for HIV infection
Take proper treatment and act on the advice of the Doctor.
Get tested for TB and other STDs
Inform your sexual partner(s)
Protect yourself from any additional exposure to HIV
Avoid drug and alcohol use
Practice good nutrition, and avoid fatigue and stress
Seek support from friends and family
Find a support group of people who are going through similar experiences
Do not donate blood, plasma, semen, body organs or other tissue
If I test HIV negative, does that mean that my partner is HIV negative also?
No, your HIV test result reveals only your HIV status. Neither your negative or positive test result will tell you whether your partner has HIV or not.
How does a mother transmit HIV to her unborn child?
An HIV-infected mother can transmit the HIV to her child in her womb through her blood. In this situation baby is more at risk. Transmission of the virus can also occur at the time of birth when the baby is exposed to the mother's blood and to some extent transmission can occur through breast milk.
What happens if a woman has a positive test result?
If a woman has a positive test result immediately she should consult with her doctor about special medical care to reduce the risk of her baby being infected.
How safe are condoms in preventing HIV?
Consistent and correct usage of condoms is effective in preventing the spread of HIV through the sexual route.
Is oral sex unsafe?
Oral sex does carry a risk of infection but infection from oral sex alone seems to be very rare.
What is ICTC?
ICTC stands for Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre.
What is the role of ICTC in the prevention of HIV/AIDS?
Integrated Counselling and Testing (ICT) provides people with an opportunity to learn and accept their HIV status in a confidential and enabling environment and to cope with the stress arising out of HIV infection.
What precautions should be taken while treating HIV and TB at the same time?
If the patient has both the diseases at the same time, the patient should be treated under the supervision of an experienced physician. Certain anti-TB medications may affect the levels of anti-HIV medications and vice versa.
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