The 1st of December is a significant day for over 30 million people in the world. It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in their fight against HIV and to show their support to those who are living with HIV.
Despite the wealth of knowledge available regarding HIV, there is still a lot of stigma and discrimination revolved around HIV. Thus it is necessary to understand the difference between HIV and AIDS. HIV is a virus. AIDS is a condition brought about by the virus HIV. You can have HIV without having AIDS, and many people live for many years with HIV without ever developing AIDS.
HIV can be transmitted only in three limited ways.
• Sexual contact that involves the transfusion of fluids or blood
• Blood transfusions,
• Mother to baby (before or during birth, or through breast milk)
One of the best ways to treat HIV is by detecting it early. Therefore if you feel like you have been in a circumstance that might have exposed you to HIV, it is important that you get tested immediately. Those who already have HIV are on antiretroviral therapy (ART) i.e medicines that treat the HIV infection. ART cannot cure HIV, but these medicines help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives.
Besides the challenges of the disease, HIV infected persons also have to combat negativity and prejudice inflicted by people around them. They are often shunned or/and shamed by society, treated like outcasts, and in some cultures deprived of their social rights. This is the reason why World AIDS Day is of vital significance. It is a day to connect as a society and show support and compassion to those infected with HIV.