The global awareness for HIV and AIDS has grown tremendously over the past couple of years, but there is still a lot to be done to control the epidemic. Many people today know about aids, they may not know the facts but they are somewhat aware of its existence and devastating effects on health. The following are some important facts about HIV and AIDS that can help clear up some misconceptions and keep you in the know.
- HIV is still one of the world’s most significant health challenges with over 34 million lives lost to it so far. Just in the year 2014, 1.6million people around the world died from HIV-related causes. There are millions of people living with the disease and an alarmingly high number of new infections with about 2.2 million people becoming newly infected in the past year. Majority of the people getting newly infected by the virus are in sub-Saharan Africa.
- HIV is an abbreviation that stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV refers to the virus or the infection. AIDS, on the other hand, stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. This is a more advanced stage of HIV infection. The HIV attacks and fights the CD4 cells of your immune system making it difficult for your body to fight infections and cancers. The HIV gradually destroys the immune system leading to the more severe condition called AIDS.
- HIV spreads through contact with certain body fluids including blood, pre-seminal fluid, semen, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids and breast milk. Getting injected with shared needs or piercing devices, unprotected sex and childbirth by and infected mother are just some of the ways these bodily fluids may end up being transferred from one person to another leading to HIV transmission. You cannot get HIV by shaking or hugging people who are infected by the virus, it is not airborne. Contacts with objects that have been used by people with HIV such as doorknobs and toilet seats cannot also cause HIV transmission.
- Medical professionals use Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RTD) to diagnose the presence of HIV in the bloodstream. The RTDs detect the presence of HIV antibodies. These rapid tests produce same day results in a matter of minutes.
- HIV has no cure. However, scientists have come up with Antiretroviral Therapy to control the virus aggression and transmission. Over 50% of people living with HIV, today know their status and live healthy productive lives through ARV therapy.