December 1 every year is marked as World AIDS day. On this day, attention is drawn to this disease and there is focus on roles that different groups can play to make a difference. For this year, the theme was ‘Getting To Zero’…Zero new HIV infection, zero stigmatization/discrimination, zero AIDS related deaths.
We presume that everyone understands what HIV means….but maybe, that’s not particularly true 😀 HIV means Human Immunodeficiency Virus and is the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. This virus damages a person’s immune system and messes with their ability to handle infections they are confronted with on a daily basis. It may exist in a person and not cause symptoms for up to 10 years.
This infection can be spread through sexual contact with an infected person, sharing sharps (sharp objects and needles with infected person), blood transfusion or vertical transmission from mother to child during childbirth.
The first phase of the infection might actually seem like the flu or a cold with symptoms like fever, headache, sore throat, muscle aches and pains, swollen lymph nodes on the neck etc. The symptoms that people generally associate with HIV/AIDS like diarrhea, weight loss, fever, oral thrush etc actually occur in the later phase of the disease.
Treatment of the HIV infection is with a combination of drugs which affect the virus in various ways. For people who already have HIV/AIDS, it is important to eat healthy and avoid infections at all costs because of the depressed immunity. This means that immunizations should be taken as and when due, be careful with domestic pets (as some parasites found on them can cause significant infections in HIV positive patients), watch out for food-borne infections (by avoiding unpasteurized dairy products, raw meats and fish etc)
Prevention is focused on preventing sexual transmission (Abstaining from sex, Being faithful to an equally faithful partner and using Condoms), ensuring that blood to be used is properly screened, not sharing sharps with other people etc This speaks to Zero New Infections.
It is important that we show love to people who are already infected. A lot of people pass judgment on people once it is said they are HIV positive because of the general belief that this is only spread through sexual contact. Remember that it can also be passed on through other means and everyone with an illness/ailment deserves our love and support. This speaks to Zero Discrimination.
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Have a great day everyone 😀