In 1988, the first World AIDS Day was celebrated on 1st December. Every year since, the day has been commemorated as World AIDS Awareness Day. Countries across the globe have been struggling to deal with HIV and AIDS for a few decades. Let’s take a moment to learn about HIV and AIDS and make ourselves aware on AIDS Awareness Day.
What Is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The virus targets the body’s immune system by destroying white blood cells, known as CD4 T cells. Without treatment, it can lead to AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Doctors will diagnose individuals with AIDS when their CD4 T cells count drops below 200 or if they develop an AIDS-defining complication like cancer or a serious infection. Currently, HIV does not have a cure, but individuals can control it. People with HIV can live healthy lives and protect their loved ones with effective treatment.
How Does HIV Spread?
Many people falsely assume that HIV spreads through direct contact or air particles. Let’s learn the truth on World AIDS Day. Individuals can contract HIV in four ways:
During intercourse, if an infected partner’s blood, semen or secretions enter your body, you could contract HIV from them.
Sharing Infected Needles
Individuals who share contaminated needles or syringes put themselves at risk of contracting HIV.
The virus can get transmitted through blood transfusions. Hospitals and doctors must scan their blood supply for HIV, so the risk of contracting HIV through this method remains low.
During Pregnancy, Delivery or Breastfeeding
Mothers with HIV risk transmitting the disease to their babies during pregnancy, delivery or while feeding. HIV-positive mothers getting adequate treatment during pregnancy can significantly lower the chances of transmission.
How Do I Know If I Have HIV?
AIDS awareness starts by learning about the symptoms of HIV. Common symptoms include fever, sore throat, rash, muscle aches, fatigue, and night sweats. Some people with HIV are completely asymptomatic, so testing remains the best way to check for HIV. You can get the most accurate results with an HIV antibodies test. Currently, the Government of India offers free HIV-screening tests at government facilities. Doctors estimate that 90% of HIV tests in the country happen in government hospitals.
Health Issues Complicated by HIV/AIDS
Individuals with HIV have a compromised immune system. They are likely to develop infections such as:
- Candidiasis or Thrush
Additionally, they risk developing cancers like lymphoma, sarcoma and HPV-related cancers.
HIV also causes other complications such as drastic weight loss, chronic weakness and fever, neurological impairments including confusion and forgetfulness, and kidney and liver disease.