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Towards an AIDS free world

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WORLD AIDS DAY 2022        

By: Muzamil Arif Batt

World AIDS Day was first conceived in August 1987 by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV weakens our immune system by destroying T-cells until we are unable to fight off even minor illnesses. World AIDS Day is observed on 1 December every year since 1988 to raise awareness about the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and to remember those who lost their lives to AIDS.

According to WHO HIV/AIDS remains one of the world most significant public health challenges particularly in low and middle income countries. IN INDIA-  the north- east region States have the highest adult HIV prevalence (2.70% in Mizoram, 1.36% in Nagaland and 1.05% in Manipur), followed by southern States (0.67% in Andhra Pradesh, 0.47% in Telangana and 0.46% in Karnataka). The number of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) are estimated at around 24 lakhs.

This year,  the AIDS Day theme is “Equalize”, which emphasises eliminating the inequalities that have slowed the fight against the disease. The inequalities, such as gender inequality, limit women’s access to HIV care and other forms of sexual and reproductive health care, which in turn affects their decision-making capabilities and their capacity to decline unwanted sexual encounters or negotiate for safer ones.

The “Equalize” slogan is a call to action. It is a prompt for all of us to work for the proven practical actions needed to address inequalities and help end AIDS. These include (1)-Increase availability, quality and suitability of services, for HIV treatment, testing and prevention, so that everyone is well-served. (2)-Reform laws, policies and practices to tackle the stigma and exclusion faced by people living with HIV and by key and marginalized populations, so that everyone is shown respect and is welcomed. (3)-Ensure the sharing of technology to enable equal access to the best HIV science, between communities and between the Global South and North. (4)-Communities will be able to make use of and adapt the “Equalize” message to highlight the particular inequalities they face and to press for the actions needed to address them.

HIV can transmit through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person, Transfusion of HIV contaminated blood, The shearing of contaminated needles, syringes or other instruments, The transmission between a mother and her baby during pregnancy, childbirth and barest feeding. HIV is not transmitted by- breathing the same air as a person living with HIV, Getting bitten by a mosquito or other biting insect, Hugging, holding hands with, kissing, or touching a person living with HIV, Touching a door handle or toilet seat that’s been used by an HIV-positive person

Causes: The cause of AIDS is primarily HIV or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus replicates itself into the human body by inserting a copy of its DNA into the human host cells. Due to such property and capability of the virus, it is also known as a retrovirus. The host cells in which the HIV resides are the WBCs (White Blood Cells) that are the part of the Human Immune system. HIV destroys the WBCs and weakens the human immune system. The weakening of the immune system affects an individual’s ability to fight diseases in time. For example, a cut or a wound takes much more time to heal or the blood to clot. In some cases, the wound never heals.

Some symptoms of HIV: Some people infected by HIV develop a flu-like illness within 2 to 4 weeks after the virus enters the body. This illness, known as primary (acute) HIV infection, may last for a few weeks. The signs and symptoms of some of these infections may include: Sweats, Chills, Recurring fever, Chronic diarrhea, Swollen lymph glands, Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on tongue or in mouth, Persistent, unexplained fatigue, Weakness, Weight loss, Skin rashes or bump etc.

Prevention of HIV: There are many actions, one can take to prevent the transmission of HIV to others, as the famous quote says “Prevention is better than cure”.

  • Safe intercourse
  • Get tested and treated for STDs Single sexual partner
  • Abstinence from unhygienic practice such as sharing needles Get tested for HIV
  • Usage of HIV prevention medicines such as pre-and post-exposure prophylaxis.
  • Educate in safe sex practices.
  • Avoid breast feeding by mother who are infected.
  • Ensure blood is thoroughly tested and cheeked before transfusion.

Importance of World Aids Day: World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and government that HIV is an important health issue and still there is a need to raise awareness, money to fight prejudice and education. The day is an opportunity for public and private partners to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care around the world.

Conclusion: The “Equalize” slogan is a call to action. It is a prompt for all of us to work for the proven practical actions needed to address inequalities and help end AIDS. These include: Increase availability, quality and suitability of services, for HIV treatment, testing and prevention, so that everyone is well-served.  We need to instil the belief among them, through our love and care, that the HIV positive patients can still lead a long and healthy life. Though AIDS is a disease, which cannot be cured or eradicated from society, the only solution to AIDS lies in its prevention and awareness. We must have our regular and periodical health check-up so that we don’t fall prey to such deadly diseases. We must also encourage and educate others to do the same. With the widespread awareness about the disease, much fewer adults and children are dying of AIDS. The only way to fight the AIDS disease is through creating awareness.

The writer is graduate student from Govt. Degree College Bhaderwah.Email [email protected]

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