World AIDS Day, since 1988, has been providing an opportunity to people worldwide to unite in the fighting against HIV and to remember those who lost their lives due to AIDS-related illness. It was the first-ever global health day.
The main motto behind celebrating the day is to raise public awareness regarding AIDS. Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome, is a pandemic disease caused due to the infection of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which causes damage to the immune system, which is responsible for helping the body fight infections. If HIV goes untreated, it can kill CD4 cells, a kind of immune cells. The more number of CD4 cells HIV kills, the more you are at risk of getting different types of infections and the infections becoming incurable.
“The knowledge about HIV/AIDS is poor in the country, especially youngsters don’t have any information about the disease. Many of them haven’t even heard about it,” Dr Manjeeta Nath Das, a senior medical consultant in internal medicine at the Columbia Asia hospital told indianexpress.com.
Dr Rahul Bhargava, Director, Department of Haematology at the Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram states “HIV has a prevalence of 0.26 per cent in adults and India has an estimated 2.1 million people with HIV.”
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease that can develop in people with HIV. AIDS is considered as the most advanced stage of HIV. As mentioned above, HIV kills CD4 cells. In healthy adults, CD4 cells range from a count of 500 to 1500 per cubic millimetre. A person with HIV whose CD4 count falls below 200 per cubic millimetre will be diagnosed with AIDS.
One of the biggest assumptions remain that it cannot occur to those in the higher sections of the society. “If someone from a well to do family is tested positive and when asked on the sexual history, they do claim that they have had multiple sexual partners but they all are from good families and that their partners passing it on to them sounds unbelievable,” Dr Das said.
“It is an incurable chronic disease. However, it can be controlled,” she maintains when asked about its curability. The average life expectancy after being diagnosed with AIDS is three years. Life expectancy can be shorter in case a person develops some infection.
Body fluids being exchanged is the most common mode of HIV transmission. HIV can be transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. The infection can also be transmitted from a mother to her child during pregnancy and delivery.
However, HIV doesn’t get transmitted through kissing, hugging, shaking hands, sharing food or water.
How to prevent the disease
*The doctor says that the best way to keep the incurable disease at bay is to take proper measures. “If you have been tested positive, get yourself hospitalised in a place where blood transfusion is properly done, the guidelines are followed.”
*Secondly, sexual transmission is very common. The best way is prevention and avoid having multiple sexual partners. Use barrier mode of prevention because it happens to be the best measure.
*Insist that your partners get tested and treated, too. Having an STD can increase your risk of being infected with HIV or spreading it to others.