What is world aids day?
World AIDS Day is a day which draws attention to the millions of people around the world living with HIV. There are fund raising events which take place around the world to raise money for the National AIDS Trust, and the work they do. World AIDS Day was founded in 1988.
When is World AIDS Day?
World AIDS Day falls on Saturday, December 1 this year and is an opportunity for people around the world to unite in the fight against HIV and show support for people living with the condition.
This year is the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day and across the UK there are more than 101,000 people living with HIV.
What is HIV?
HIV is a virus that attacks cells in the immune system, which is our body’s natural defense against illness. The virus destroys a type of white blood cell in the immune system called a T-helper cell, and makes copies of itself inside these cells. T-helper cells are also referred to as CD4 cells.
As HIV destroys more CD4 cells and makes more copies of itself, it gradually weakens a person’s immune system. This means that someone who has HIV. And isn’t taking antiretroviral treatment, will find it harder and harder to fight off infections and diseases.
If HIV is left untreated, it may take up to 10 or 15 years for the immune system to be so severely damaged that it can no longer defend itself at all. However, the rate at which HIV progresses varies depending on age, general health and background.
How many are infected by HIV?
Around the world, there are an estimated 36.9 million people who have the virus. With the worst affected countries being Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, South Africa and Namibia according to the CIA World Fact book. The virus was only identified in 1984, and is responsible for the deaths of more than 35 million people, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
There have been advances in medical treatments for those with the virus, however in 2017 along 940,000 people died from related illnesses according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
New infections of HIV have dropped by 16 percent since 2010, and 47 percent since the crisis was at its peak in 1996, when 3.4 million people across the world were diagnosed.
UNAIDS found those who are most at risk of contracting the virus are men who have sex with other men, with this group being 27 percent more vulnerable than average.
Those who inject drugs using a hypodermic needle are 23 times more likely to catch HIV and female sex workers 13 percent more likely.
Symptoms of Hiv or you can say “Signs of Hiv Aids”
It may take some time, but HIV may eventually break down a person’s immune system. Once this happens, HIV will progress to stage 3 HIV, often referred to as AIDS. AIDS is the last stage of the disease. A person at this stage has a severely damaged immune system, making them more susceptible to opportunistic infections.
Opportunistic infections are conditions that the body would normally be able to fight off, but can be harmful to people who have HIV. People living with HIV may notice that they frequently get colds, flu, and fungal infections.
They might also experience the following stage 3 HIV symptoms:
- persistent diarrhea
- chronic fatigue
- rapid weight loss
- cough and shortness of breath
- recurring fever, chills, and night sweats
- rashes, sores, or lesions in the mouth or nose, on the genitals, or under the skin
- prolonged swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpits, groin, or neck
- memory loss, confusion, or neurological disorders.
Protecting against HIV
The CDC estimated that, in the United States as of 2015, 15 percent of people living with HIV don’t know that they have it. In the last several years, the number of people living with HIV has increased, while the annual number of new HIV transmissions has stayed fairly stable.
It’s crucial to be aware of the symptoms of HIV and get tested if there’s a possibility of having contracted the virus. Avoiding exposure to bodily fluids potentially carrying the virus is one means of prevention.
These measures can help reduce the risk of contracting HIV:
- Use condoms for vaginal and anal sex.When used correctly, condoms are highly effective at protecting against HIV.
- Avoid intravenous drugs.Try not to share or reuse needles. Many cities have needle exchange programs that provide sterile needles.
- Take precautions. Always assume that blood might be infectious. Use latex gloves and other barriers for protection.
- Get tested for HIV. Getting tested is the only way to know whether or not HIV has been transmitted. Those who test positive for HIV can get the treatment they need as well as take steps to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others.
- HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, our body’s natural defense against illness.
- If HIV is left untreated, a person’s immune system will get weaker and weaker until it can no longer fight off life-threatening infections and diseases.
- Testing regularly for HIV means you can get antiretroviral treatment if you need it and stay healthy.
- AIDS describes a set of symptoms and illnesses that happen at the final stage of HIV infection, if left untreated.
What does the red ribbon worn for World AIDS Day mean?
World AIDS Day is a day to show solidarity for the millions of people living with HIV worldwide. Often to show their support people wear a HIV awareness red ribbon on the day. The red ribbon has become the universal symbol of awareness and support for people living with HIV.
There are AIDS masses being held in some churches, club events, film screenings and lots more fundraising activities to attend. Money raised from the day goes towards NAT, which helps to champion people living with HIV in the UK.