AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a disease that involves the particular group of signs and symptoms, caused by infection due to a virus known as HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). The final stage of HIV infection results into AIDS. HIV virus takes control over the immune system in order to propagate and spread by converting our immune cells into HIV factories and killing our immune T-cells which are meant for fighting diseases. Due to altered immune system, person becomes vulnerable to second line infections such as TB, opportunistic infections (caused due to failure in the immune system). AIDS is a pandemic and is recognized as a family disease. As HIV can infect any age group, thus to disseminate information and to encourage prevention, treatment and care around the world, particularly in high prevalence countries World AIDS Day is celebrated internationally every year on December 1st.
HIV represents a threat to global health, it is estimated that 36.9 million people are living worldwide with HIV/AIDS. Through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), CDC provides support to help 60 countries worldwide to strengthen their national HIV/AIDS programs!
It’s time to debunk some myths associated with AIDS:
Myth – HIV spreads through casual contacts and mosquito bite
Fact – HIV can’t survive outside the body in water, air or on surface of an object and does not spread through:
Shaking hands, hugging, kissing and sneezing or breathing same air, Sharing towels, cutlery, toilet seats, rooms, exercise equipment, Not through insect or animal bite
Myth – if you are taking medicine you cannot transmit HIV
Fact – HIV transmits even if you are being treated or not getting treatment, through:
Sexual contacts (HIV present in semen and vaginal fluid), Blood transfusion, During pregnancy or childbirth, Breastfeeding, Using and sharing contaminated syringes
Myth – if you don’t have symptoms you don’t have AIDS
Fact – Many people develops symptoms of flu within 2-6 weeks after getting an infection, Whereas some people with HIV do not show symptoms for several years but as infections progresses, symptoms starts developing, such condition is called asymptomatic HIV infection
Myth – HIV positive mother cannot have babies
Fact – HIV positive women can become pregnant by taking HIV drugs to treat their infection and to protects the baby in the womb and after birth, the baby may also be given some medication to for protection against the virus
Myth -There is no risk of getting HIV in protected sex
Fact – Risk of getting HIV from infected partners while having protected sex is less but still a chance of getting an infection is their if one have ulcers or bleeding gums or open sores or wound on genitals
Myth – HIV is risk for certain groups of people only
Fact – Anyone can get HIV, but some people who are engaged in certain activities such as polygamy, unprotected sex, using infected needles in drug addiction while getting tattoos and piercings or those requiring frequent blood transfusion have a higher risk of getting HIV
Myth – AIDS means sure death or few years to live
Fact -There is no cure for AIDS but truth is that many people live longer by following proper treatment regime. Drugs available today keeps virus level low and helps to maintain immunity and prevents HIV from progressing to AIDS
There is no cure for AIDS so if something has no cure, Prevention is the better cure!