World AIDS Day: Let’s Join Our Hands to Spread Awareness for AIDS

World AIDS Day

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is caused by a virus called HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). This is a chronic life-threatening condition in which the body’s ability to fight infections is lost, as this deadly virus directly affects the human’s immune system. Though AIDS doesn’t have a specific cure, it can be maintained to a certain extent.


Symptoms of AIDS

In the acute stage of AIDS, people suffer from symptoms, such as

  1. Fever
  2. Headache
  3. Body pain
  4. Diarrhea
  5. Weight loss

Once the infection turns chronic, severe symptoms can be experienced, such as

  1. Chills with fever
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Sweating
  4. Weakness
  5. Drastic weight loss
  6. Swollen lymph nodes

How HIV is transmitted? 

This virus can transmit through body fluids, these fluids are:’

  • Breast milk
  • Blood
  • Semen fluid
  • Vaginal fluid
  • Rectal fluid

When any of these fluids transmit from an HIV infected person to a healthy person, through cuts, sores, mucus membranes or injections, then this virus enters into the bloodstream of the healthy person which eventually leads to AIDS. As this virus shows delayed symptoms, most of the time the sufferers themselves wouldn’t be aware of the disease state. As we know a mode of transmission for HIV is through unsafe sex, many people are shy to disclose it and get treatment. When the awareness towards AIDS started, then people understood the mode of transfusion and came forward.


Awareness for AIDS

World AIDS Day has been celebrated on 1st December since 1988. James W Bunn and Thomas Netter along with Dr. Jonathan Mann (Director of UNAIDS) first fomented this idea to the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness of AIDS. 


Origin of HIV

HIV was first found out in chimpanzees and then spread to humans. It was believed that HIV originated in Kinshasa, Congo in 1920. Till 1980, there was no specific count of people infected with HIV. By 1980, five continents (America both North and South, Europe, Australia, and Africa) had reported nearly 300,000 HIV-positive cases. By 1988 an estimate of 1,00,00 to 1,50,000 people had been affected by AIDS. So, to alert people about this epidemic, an awareness day was proposed. 

The international recognition for AIDS is a Red Ribbon. Back in the day, people even used to pin red ribbons on their outfits to spread awareness. Various countries use different strategies to spread awareness for the cause. Most used strategies were rallies, concerts, and memorials for the patients who died due to AIDS.


Celebs who contributed towards spreading awareness

Few celebs have suffered from AIDS and raised awareness towards it. A massive wave of HIV testing and people searching about AIDS followed Sheen’s reveal of being positive, which was titled as ‘Charlie Sheen effect’. Sheen announced that he had been suffering from HIV for years and hiding it from the media. This talk went viral and was said that the media coverage of this issue was high rated compared to the last seven years. This announcement connected Google searches was the most searched topic related to AIDS. After Sheen’s announcement from November 17 to December 8, nearly 2.75 million searches on Google were found relating to aids. From this, you can figure how celeb-induced awareness can spread to the masses in a short period.


Diagnosis for AIDS

Blood Test

  • The traditional method to detect HIV is through blood tests. 
  • The person under-diagnosis is taken to detect antibodies against HIV.

Anyway, many hospitals nowadays carry out AIDS tests once the blood has been extracted.

ELISA

ELISA, short for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, is used as a confirmatory test for AIDS. If ELISA shows negative, but the symptoms are positive, then testing again within 3 months is recommended. Sometimes HIV antibodies are not immediately produced after you get infected, hence retesting is highly recommended. 

ELISA is quite sensitive to chronic forms of HIV, so it is highly accurate.

Home Testing Kits

As most people are hesitant to undergo an HIV test, countries like the United States, United Kingdom and France have approved a few kits that you can use at home and check if you’re positive. 

Saliva Test

Saliva taken by a cotton swab may be sent to specialized laboratories to check for the presence of HIV. This is an uncommon type of test.

These are the few tests that are carried out to detect HIV, but most of the time blood tests are done as a primary diagnosis and ELISA is used as a confirmatory test.


How to support people with AIDS?

Counselling

People with AIDS need counselling so that they can share their mental concerns with others. Listen to them and making them feel at ease, can give them mental support, which is mandatory for people with AIDS

Educate

AIDS patients need to be well informed and educated so they can access valuable treatment. Similarly, patients, friends and relatives also need to be educated.

Treatment and adherence

Taking medications for AIDS and adhering to the same can increase the life span of patients and help to reduce comorbidities.


How to help an AIDS patient?

Counseling, treatment, and education all help AIDS patients, but what is important are funds. As we know, AIDS patients require continuous care and treatment, so the cost is high for management. Hence, raising funds for such causes can help them immensely. There are quite a few organizations, where countless people are getting treatment for AIDS. You can give funds to such organizations or any hospitals which you know to help such cases. Recently, there are quite a few online crowdfunding platforms where you can raise funds for AIDS patients’ treatment. Crowdfunding can also help to spread awareness for AIDS. One such trustworthy platform in India is the Ketto organization, where they raise funding through crowdfunding on their platform and also spread awareness.


Conclusion

AIDS is a deadly disease that doesn’t have a specific cure. As many people worldwide are still suffering from this disease, raising awareness and funds for AIDS patients can be quite helpful to them. December 1st is celebrated as AIDS day in order to spread awareness. On this day every country comes up with different strategies to spread awareness like really, campaigns, ads, etc.

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