WHAT IS WORLD AIDS DAY?
World AIDS Day is held on the 1st December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.
WHY IS WORLD AIDS DAY IMPORTANT?
Globally there are an estimated 34 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. Despite this, each year in the UK around 6,000 people are diagnosed with HIV, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.
World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
WHAT SHOULD I DO ON WORLD AIDS DAY?
World AIDS Day is an opportunity to show support to and solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV. Wearing a red ribbon and go and get tested. Jua hali yako. Visit a VCT centre near you today.
BASIC HIV/AIDS FACTS
What is HIV?
HIV stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus which attacks the body’s immune system – the body’s defence against diseases. When someone is described as living with HIV, they have the HIV virus in their body. Without medication, people with HIV can develop AIDS.
What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is not considered a disease, but a syndrome – a collection of different signs and symptoms. If someone is said to have AIDS they will have HIV and at least one of a specific list of ‘AIDS-defining’ diseases including: tuberculosis, pneumonia or some types of cancer. With advances in HIV treatment, many people can recover from AIDS, though they will still have HIV.
What is a CD Count and Viral Load?
CD4 count is a measure of immune function. By measuring someone’s CD4 levels you can see how HIV has affected their immune system, showing the progression of the virus. Most people start treatment when their CD4 count is at 350.
Viral load measures how active HIV is in someone’s body. The higher the viral load the more infectious someone would be. Effective HIV medication can keep people’s CD4 count high and their viral load so low it is undetectable. However people with HIV’s CD4 count and viral load can go up and down depending on their medication, whether they have another STI and their general health.
How is HIV passed on?
HIV can be passed on through infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids, rectal secretions or breast milk.
The most common ways HIV is passed on are:
- Sex without a condom
- Sharing infected needles, syringes or other injecting drug equipment
Is there a cure for HIV?
No, but treatment can keep the virus under control and the immune system healthy. People on HIV treatment can live a healthy, active life – although some may experience side effects from the treatment. If HIV is diagnosed late, treatment is likely to be less effective.
How can I protect myself and others from HIV infection?
Always use a condom when having vaginal or anal sex. You may also want to use a condom or dental dam during oral sex although the risk of transmission of HIV is much lower. You can get free condoms from a sexual health clinic. Never share needles, syringes or any other injecting equipment.
I don’t know anyone with HIV… do I?
Today there are more people than ever before living with HIV, but many people think they don’t know anyone with HIV. But one in four people living with HIV don’t know they have it, and even if someone does know they are HIV positive, they may not feel able to tell you.
Did you know?
- For someone diagnosed with HIV today at 35 life expectancy is over 72
- The most common treatment today for someone diagnosed with HIV early is one or two pills a day
- Lots of people with HIV work and their HIV does not affect their working life
- HIV is not transmitted through normal everyday contact at work, school or in social situations
- HIV is not transmitted by biting, scratching or spitting
- With the right medical help, 99% of HIV positive women give birth to healthy babies without passing on HIV
- HIV affects all ages.
Follow the below link for more HIV/AIDS facts and myths.
Go get tested today and keep the conversation going.
#RethinkHIV #WorldAIDSDay #LindaAfya #MyHealthMyResponsibility