December 1st is celebrated as World Aids Day, across the globe. This is a special day to raise awareness about the disease and celebrate lives of those who succumbed to it. World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the need to end inequalities when gaining access to essential HIV services like receiving drugs. Lack of awareness and social taboos worsen the condition of those that are infected.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) gets into the immune system and weakens its ability to defend the body against infections, hence tampering with the proper functioning of the immune cells. The infection then transitions to become acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) if not diagnosed and treated at an early stage.
A report published by WHO reveals that the disease is still a major global health issue, that has led to the death of 36.3 million people, with approximately 37.7 million people living with the disease as at the end of 2020. Over two-thirds of the population were diagnosed in WHO African countries.
"Although the world has made significant progress in recent decades, important global targets for 2020 were not met. Division, disparity and disregard for human rights are among the failures that allowed HIV to become and remain a global health crisis. Now, COVID-19 is exacerbating inequities and disruptions to services, making the lives of many people living with HIV more challenging," WHO
How is it transmitted?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes the transmission of HIV to factors like; practicing unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person, sharing sharp objects like needles and razors and receiving blood from an infected person. The virus can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, at birth or breastfeeding.
The most common symptoms of AIDS include; Fever, chills, rash, night sweats, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, mouth ulcers, drastic weight loss and diarrhea that lasts for more than two weeks.
The spread of HIV can be prevented through practicing protected sexual intercourse, avoid sharing sharp objects and preventing mother to child transmission. It is also important to get tested and take drugs, as recommended by the doctor.
Scientists and researchers are still looking for vaccines and cure for the disease, however, increased access to information about HIV prevention measures, diagnosis, treatment and care has enabled people to live healthy with the disease for many years.