World AIDS Day- Get Your Facts Right On This Dreaded Disease

When did the concept of World AIDS Day first start?

World AIDS Day emerged from the call by the World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention in January 1988 to open channels of communication, strengthen the exchange of information and experience, and forge a spirit of social tolerance. Since then, World AIDS Day has received the support of the World Health Assembly, the United Nations system, and governments, communities and individuals around the world.

Each year, it is the only international day of coordinated action against AIDS The first World AIDS Campaign took place in 1997 to emphasise that AIDS is not just a cause for concern one day of each year. So the World AIDS Campaign now starts early each year and culminates on World AIDS Day on December 1st. But in 2001, it was decided by UNAIDS that the world AIDS campaign would start on 1st September 2001 and last for the three months until 1st December.

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Facts about AIDS:

  • A I D S   is:  Acquired – must do something to contract, Immune- ability to fight off infectious agents, Deficiency- lack of, Syndrome- cluster of symptoms that are characteristic for a disease.
  • H I V : Human-isolated to the human species, Immuno- deficiency- lacking the ability to fight off infectious agents, Virus- a disease-causing agent.
  • AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome) is the late stage of infection with the HIV (Human Immuno-deficiency Virus)
  • AIDS can take around 7-10 years to develop after infection with HIV.
  • HIV is transmitted through use of contaminated needles and syringes, semen and vaginal fluids, infected blood and blood products, infected mother to her baby before birth, during birth or through breast milk.
  • A person who is HIV positive has HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV damages the immune system, the part of the body that fights infection. Over time, the immune system becomes very weak. This stage of HIV is called AIDS.
  • No one knows for sure when a person with HIV will get AIDS. HIV is different in different people. It can take a long time for HIV to make the person sick. Many people with HIV stay healthy for years.
  • HIV infection is diagnosed on the basis of blood tests using three different ELISA/ Rapid simple tests using different antigen preparation.
  • AIDS cases are diagnosed on the basis of two different ELISA/ Rapid tests on different antigens and presence of AIDS related opportunistic infections
  • Western Blot test is used for confirmation of the diagnosis of indeterminate ELISA tests.
  • There is no cure for AIDS at this time. However, treatments are available that can improve the quality of life of those suffering the infection.

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What you need to remember: 

HIV is not spread by-  Drinking water or eating food from the same utensils used by infected person, Sharing toilets, Shaking hands, Donating blood, Working with people who are HIV infected, Swimming in pools used by people with HIV/AIDS, Through mosquito bite, Socialising or casually living with people with HIV/AIDS

Blood products like plasma, Factor 8, Rh Factor, immunoglobulin, interferon, etc., also should not be accepted until one is sure that they have been screened for HIV.

In case of requirement of blood always prefer to accept blood from family and friends instead of buying blood from professional donors as one cannot be sure of the quality of blood donated by him.

Donating blood does not carry the risk of transmission of HIV infection as the needles used for these purposes are sterile.

You could rule out the risk of acquiring HIV infection when you go in for a blood test if the equipment being used on you is sterile.

Menstrual blood of an HIV positive woman is infective.

Mosquitoes are not capable of transmitting HIV infection, as the HIV is not able to survive or replicate inside the intestine of the mosquito.

Medical personnel are at a potential risk of acquiring HIV infection as they have to deal with blood and other body risk is very minimal if precautionary measures such as the use of gloves, masks, and goggles, are taken when handling potentially infected material.