World AIDS day is celebrated every year all over the world on 1st of December to raise the public awareness about AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome). AIDS is a pandemic disease caused due to the infection of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The day is celebrated by government organizations, NGOs, civil society and other health officials by organizing speeches or forums with discussions related to AIDS.
World AIDS Day was first visualized by Thomas Netter and James W. Bunn in August, 1987. The President of United States declared an official announcement for World AIDS Day in the year 1995 which was followed by other countries all across the world. According to a rough estimation, around 25 million people died from 1981 to 2007 because of the HIV infection. Even after the access of antiretroviral treatment at many places, around 2 million people (of which at least 270,000 were children) in 2007 were infected with this epidemic disease.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome:
- Acquired means you can get infected with it;
- Immune Deficiency means a weakness in the body’s system that fights diseases.
- Syndrome means a group of health problems that make up a disease.
HIV is a virus that may cause an infection, but AIDS is a condition or a syndrome. Being infected with HIV can lead to the development of AIDS, which stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS develops when HIV has caused serious damage to the immune system.
- HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 35 million lives so far. There were approximately 36.7 (34.0–39.8) million people living with HIV at the end of 2015 with 2.1 (1.8–2.4) million people becoming newly infected with HIV in 2015 globally.
- Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region, with 25.6 (23.1–28.5) million people living with HIV in 2015. Also sub-Saharan Africa accounts for two-thirds of the global total of new HIV infections.
- HIV infection is often diagnosed through rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), which detect the presence or absence of HIV antibodies. Most often these tests provide same-day test results – essential for same day diagnosis and early treatment and care.
- There is no cure for HIV infection. However, effective antiretroviral (ARV) drugs 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.
- It is estimated that currently only 60% of people with HIV know their status. The remaining 40% or over 14 million people need to access HIV testing services. By mid-2016, 18.2 (16.1–19.0) million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally. Massive expansion of antiretroviral therapy has reduced the number of people dying of HIV related causes to approximately 1.1 million in 2015 – 45% fewer than in 2005
Signs And Symptoms: The symptoms of HIV vary depending on the stage of infection. The first few weeks after initial infection, individuals may experience no symptoms or an influenza-like illness including fever, headache, rash or sore throat. As the infection progressively weakens the immune system, an individual can develop other signs and symptoms, such as swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, diarrhea and cough.
Transmission: HIV can be transmitted via the exchange of a variety of body fluids from infected individuals, such as blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions. Individuals cannot become infected through ordinary day-to-day contact such as kissing, hugging, shaking hands, or sharing personal objects, food or water.
Treatment: HIV can be suppressed by combination ART consisting of 3 or more ARV drugs. ART does not cure HIV infection but controls viral replication within a person’s body and allows an individual’s immune system to strengthen and regain the capacity to fight off infections. Having achieved the global target of halting and reversing the spread of HIV, world leaders have set the 2020 “Fast-Track” targets to accelerate the HIV response and to END AIDS BY 2030.