If you think education is expensive, try ignorance – Unknown

Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.  ~William James

Have you ever wondered how many people die of AIDS every day? How many were told they had AIDS today?

AIDS although is a relatively new disease in the medical world but about 53 years ago it was considered a death sentence for the mankind.  The first ever global health day celebrated to increase awareness of any disease was on 1st of December 1988, today known as the WORLD AIDS DAY. Although 2 years earlier, United Kingdome had already hosted a campaign called “ Don’t Aid AIDS” and  Princess Diana visited and shook hands with Aids patients to dispel the fear of knowing a patient affected with AIDS.

The first case of AIDS was known to the world of medicine only by the 70’s, before that it was either not reported or not known at all.

This deadly combination of disease (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome)  is thought to be first found in Africa, and transmitted to human’s by infected chimpanzee blood, contacted while hunting and it’s known that for many years, it was limited to Africa (HIV-1 group M subtype B was the first HIV discovered) . But over the time, because of improved global connections, the disease spread to the world rapidly. In 1981, the incidence of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis Jirvoci increased drastically in New York and California, specifically. These diseases, generally affect older people as they have weak immune systems but this year, they were surprisingly reported in young men. It was initially related to gay life style as a study showed that the reported cases were mostly of gay men. In fact, in 1982 the press called it “gay plague”, gay compromise syndrome and even lymphadenopathy, eventually being named AIDS (SIDA in French and Spanish ) in July 1982. After some time, when this disease was also reported in IV drug users it was well understood that the problem was not confined to gay lifestyle.

The years following 1983 until 1987 brought several important discoveries making them high yield years in the history of emergence of AIDS. The disease was spreading all over the world, now affecting women, indicating sexual transmission. LAV ( Lymphadenopathy associated virus) was being talked about in France, where as USA was preoccupied with HTV -3 type (Human T-cell lymphotropic Virus), which were later found to be the same. The condition in Africa was worsening and the first mother to child transmission of the virus through breast milk was reported. It was then that the first Antibody test was developed, followed by the development of AZT in 1986 – approved for public use in 1987.

The year 1988 through 1991 were marked by the development and approval of the second drug for AIDS – ddI (dideoxyinosine) and the development of dideoxycytidine (ddC), the drug that slowed the progression of AIDS. In 1991, a group of artists, brainstormed to come up with a simple idea to raise awareness and support people with AIDS, by wearing a red ribbon. Pink and rainbow were rejected because of association limited to the gay community as they wanted to convey that this deadly syndrome went beyond and was relevant to everyone. They started by making ribbons themselves and distributing them at theatres around New York along with a text that included information about  Aids and why were the ribbons being worn. Over weeks, the text with the ribbon was dropped as this symbolism has established it self in the community and no longer needed explaination. The symbol spread itself, raising awareness on a very large scale, when popular stars started wearing it to high profile award ceremonies such as Oscars. In 1992, more than a 100, 000 red ribbons were distributed among the audience at Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert held at London’s Wembley Stadium on Easter Sunday. And within a short time, the Red Ribbon became universally known as the symbol of AIDS awareness. Unfortunately, the year following brought with it the first reported case of Zidovudine resistance. From 1995, with an astonishing rise in the number of deaths from HIV, and 1 million reported cases of HIV+ adults, the medical experts started working on more drugs to cure/manage AIDS. By the time, Saquinavir (a protease enzyme inhibitor) was developed and approved, the number of global deaths from AIDS had been reported as 9 million. When in 1999, AIDS was declared the 4th biggest global cause of death, Oxford started it’s work on the development of HIV vaccine, but by then the number of worldwide reported cases had risen to 34.3 million.

After all the hard word and research, in 2003, 40% of the HIV+ AIDS vaccine failed, followed by the approval of Enfuviride in the United States.

According to *WHO:

HIV can be transmitted through:

  • unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal) or oral sex with an infected person;
  • transfusions of contaminated blood;
  • the sharing of contaminated needles, syringes or other sharp instruments;
  • the transmission between a mother and her baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

Key ways to prevent HIV transmission:

  • practice safe sexual behaviors such as using condoms;
  • get tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV;
  • avoid injecting drugs, or if you do, always use new and disposable needles and syringes;
  • ensure that any blood or blood products that you might need are tested for HIV.

HIV is the strongest risk factor for developing active TB disease

In 2012, approximately 320 000 deaths from tuberculosis occurred among people living with HIV. That is one fifth of the estimated 1.6 million deaths from HIV in that year. The majority of people living with both HIV and TB reside in sub-Saharan Africa (about 75% of cases worldwide).

Mother-to-child-transmission of HIV is almost entirely avoidable

Access to preventive interventions remains limited in most low- and middle-income countries. But progress has been made. In 2012, 62% of pregnant women living with HIV received the most effective drug regimens (as recommended by WHO) to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

An estimated 3.34 million children are living with HIV

According to 2012 figures most of the children live in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Over 700 children become newly infected with HIV each day.

Close to 10 million HIV-positive people had access to ART in low- and middle-income countries at the end of 2012

There are some 29 million people who will require access to antiretroviral therapy under the new 2013 guidelines.

Combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) prevents the HIV virus from multiplying in the body

If the reproduction of the HIV virus stops, then the body’s immune cells are able to live longer and provide the body with protection from infections. If the HIV positive partner in a couple is on ART, the likelihood of sexual transmission to the HIV-negative partner decreases dramatically.

HIV is the world’s leading infectious killer

An estimated 36 million people have died so far and 1.6 million people died of HIV/AIDS in 2012.

35.3 million people live with HIV worldwide

More than 35.3 million people are currently living with HIV, and 2.1 million of these are adolescents (10-19 years). All adolescents are vulnerable to HIV due to the physical and emotional transitions, and potentially heightened risk-taking behaviour, inherent to this period of life. The vast majority of people living with HIV are in low- and middle-income countries. An estimated 2.3 million people were newly infected with the virus in 2012.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infects cells of the immune system

Infection results in the progressive deterioration of the immune system, breaking down the body’s ability to fend off some infections and other diseases. AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome) refers to the most advanced stages of HIV infection, defined by the occurrence of any of more than 20 opportunistic infections or related cancers.

*Source: WHO – 10 facts on HIV

To conclude,

  • Over 90% of people with HIV were infected through sexual contact
  • You can now get tested for HIV using a saliva sample
  • HIV is not passed on through spitting, biting or sharing utensils
  • Only 1% of babies born to HIV positive mothers have HIV
  • You can get the results of an HIV test in just 15-20 minutes
  • There is no vaccine and no cure for HIV

Here is a Quiz offered by HIVaware, you might be interested in.

I’d also like to share this short poem I came across during my reading, called “Every Woman” by Simply Tam

Article by: DR.AM

Princess Diana


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