World AIDS day is marked by the World Health Organization (WHO) and celebrated every 1st of December as a global public health campaign.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is celebrated as a major public health, because of the fatal effect it has on the health of its recipient. T he theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is “Global solidarity, resilient services”.
In a report by WHO, about 33 million lives have been killed by this disease, also a research by the United Nations shows that globally, 12.6 million people living with HIV still don’t have access to treatment, and an estimated 38 million people are living with HIV as at 2019 as reported by WHO.
However, in a report by WHO, 26 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy by June 2020, marking a 2.4% increase from an estimate of 25.4 million at the end of 2019. Also 85% of pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV also received ART (Antiretroviral Therapy).
According to UN chief Antonio Gueterres, “Health is a human right – and universal health coverage must be a top investment priority. To overcome COVID-19 and end AIDS, the world must stand in solidarity and share responsibility”.
What Is HIV?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells that help the body fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases.
It is spread by contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV, most commonly during unprotected sex (sex without a condom or HIV medicine to prevent or treat HIV), or through sharing injection drug equipment.
If left untreated, HIV can lead to the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).The human body can’t get rid of HIV and no effective HIV cure exists. So, once you have HIV, you have it for life.
However, by taking HIV medicine (called antiretroviral therapy or ART), people with HIV can live long and healthy lives and prevent transmitting HIV to their sexual partners. First identified in 1981, HIV is the cause of one of humanity’s deadliest and most persistent epidemics.
What Is AIDS?
AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is the late stage of HIV infection that occurs when the body’s immune system is badly damaged because of the virus.
In the U.S., most people with HIV do not develop AIDS because taking HIV medicine every day as prescribed stops the progression of the disease.
A person with HIV is considered to have progressed to AIDS when the number of their CD4 cells falls below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (200 cells/mm3). (In someone with a healthy immune system, CD4 counts are between 500 and 1,600 cells/mm3.) OR when they develop one or more opportunistic infections regardless of their CD4 count.
Without HIV medicine, people with AIDS typically survive about 3 years. Once someone has a dangerous opportunistic illness, life expectancy without treatment falls to about 1 year.
HIV medicine can still help people at this stage of HIV infection, and it can even be lifesaving. But people who start ART soon after they get HIV experience more benefits—that’s why HIV testing is so important.
How Do I Know If I Have HIV?
The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. Testing is relatively simple. You can ask your health care provider for an HIV test.
You can also buy a home testing kit at a pharmacy or online.
Self-testing allows people to take an HIV test and find out their result in their own home or other private location.