Most of us are aware of the celebrity status that is attached to this deadly disease called AIDS. From Hollywood actor, Charlie Sheen who is living with HIV to other stars like Rock Hudson, Magic Johnson, Freddie Mercury, Arthur Ashe, and Michael Jeter are all HIV positive. Some of them died tragically while others have spearheaded campaigns for awareness and prevention of AIDS. And, all these campaigns do deserve copious amounts of celebrity participation because of the stigmas attached around this disease.
December 1st is observed as the World AIDS Day and this year too we have a lot of celebrities fighting for the cause. Victoria Beckham is coming up with a T-shirt honoring World AIDS Day, and by the way she was the UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador in 2014. Many artists, and celebrities are coming up with activities to spread awareness on AIDS this year and all action is leading to the African continent.
History of AIDS
While most of us are only aware of the celebrity side of this deadly disease, we don’t know that AIDS has been around since the 1950s! Though the term ‘acquired immunodeficiency syndrome’ was coined by the healthcare officials in the USA in 1982, its history goes back further.
The first known case of AIDS was found in a blood sample collected from a man in Congo. The year was 1959. Upon analysis, it was found that the present AIDS virus had stemmed from a single virus in the 1940s and 1950s.
It is believed that people who consumed the meat of chimpanzees in West Africa had come in contact with the infected blood and a human version of the simian immunodeficiency virus developed over time. Over the years, it spread all over the world and is now known as HIV.
It came to light in the 1970s when numerous men who had same gender sex came to hospitals with rare types of pneumonia and doctors observed conditions that did not exist in people with normal immune systems. The actual discovery of the AIDS virus was done in 1983, and back then it was named HTLV-III/LAV.
Some HIV Facts
From the time of its discovery to this date, there have been advances in the care provided to HIV positive patients, but there is still a lot of stigma attached to this condition and there is a lot of discrimination that happens to these people. AIDS HIV has been around for some time and it has assumed the state of an international healthcare burden.
Here are a few facts on AIDS.
- ● Till date, 35 million people have died of AIDS.
- ● 78 million people are HIV positive.
- ● In 2015, nearly 1.3 million people died of HIV-related causes.
- ● The most affected area is Sub-Saharan Africa with 25.6 million people living with AIDS.
- ● There is no cure for AIDS.
- ● Only 60% of people that HIV positive are aware of their disease.
- ● Every year 50,000 people get AIDS.
- ● African Americans and African ethnic communities are at the highest risk of contracting AIDS.
- ● AIDS can be prevented by limiting sexual partners, using condoms, and never sharing needles.
- ● UNAIDS, a joint United Nations Program, is an organization that has taken up aggressive activism to end AIDS by 2030.
What is AIDS?
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease that is caused by the virus HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). The syndrome causes an altered immunity system in the patient and makes the patient vulnerable to a host of diseases. As the disease progresses, the vulnerability also increases.
Present in the bodily fluids of the patient including blood, semen, breast milk, and vaginal fluids, HIV is transmitted through sexual intercourse with infected persons, sharing needles of infected persons, and being born to an infected patient (mother to child).
HIV is also transmitted by oral sex, unprotected sex, anal sex, blood transfusion, and hypodermic needles that are contaminated with HIV virus. Death is caused in HIV patients due to other infections that crop up as a result of a compromised immunity system.
Symptoms of AIDS
- ● Fever and Chills
- ● Muscle aches and joint pains
- ● Sore throat
- ● Sweating at nights
- ● Enlarged lymph nodes.
- ● Rashes
- ● Fatigue and Malaise
- ● Weight Loss
In the later stages of HIV infection, patients may present with symptoms such as blurred vision, shortness of breath, diarrhea, white spots on tongue and mouth, and fever that lasts for more than weeks.
If you have any of these symptoms, contact experts at Apollo Hospitals immediately
HIV infected patients are always at a higher risk of contracting severe diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia, esophagitis, meningitis, encephalitis, and certain forms of cancer like lung cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, lymphoma, and rectal and cervical cancers.
Diagnosis of AIDS
A blood test that screens for HIV virus is conducted along with serological tests like RDTs and EIAs. With these tests, HIV infection can be detected accurately. Many patients develop antibodies to the HIV only after 28 days and so it is only possible to detect the presence of a HIV infection after this period.
Many governments of various countries have made it mandatory to get oneself tested for HIV if they present themselves to the hospital. In fact, it is the proactive approach of governments that has made it possible to curtail the spread of the disease to a large extent.
Treatment and Management of AIDS
Beginning the treatment early on is vital to increase the life expectancy of the patients that are HIV positive. Antiretroviral treatment is the standard treatment for AIDS along with some emergency prophylactic medications called anti-HIV medication (PEP) are given to patients who believe that they might have contracted AIDS, but these need to be given within the first 72 hours.
If you have had unprotected sex or have shared a needle, it is time to act fast! Consult experts at Apollo Hospitals for PEP therapy.
Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is given to patients with AIDS along with antifungal creams and vitamin supplementations.
Stigmas and Misconceptions around AIDS
Though there is a lot of awareness created on HIV, societies are still apathetic towards AIDS patients. They are constantly subject to discriminations and are social outcasts. Here are a few facts about AIDS that would help you be a kinder person to someone who has AIDS.
AIDS does not spread by:
- ● Hugging
- ● Shaking Hands
- ● Sneezing
- ● Casual Kissing
- ● Using the same toilet
- ● Sharing clothes or towels
- ● Sharing utensils
- ● CPR
- ● Touching unbroken skin
It is very important that we treat patients with sympathy and honor their rights to lead a normal life. For this reason and to stop AIDS, every first of December, the World AIDS Day is observed. This year the theme is Hands up for HIV prevention. The movement advocates zero violence against AIDS patients, usage of condoms, zero discrimination, and their right to have good health.
Let’s together fight against this dangerous disease and swipe it out of the planet!