World AIDS Day: The Myths And Misconceptions Surrounding AIDS

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World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 to educate people about AIDS, it’s prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, and to end the societal stigma surrounding it

Written By Press Trust Of India | Mumbai | Updated On:
World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 to educate people about AIDS, it’s prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and to end the societal stigma surrounding it. It was first proposed by two Swiss public information officers James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1987. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is a viral infection that attacks the immune system.

Genesis:

The first documented case of AIDS came from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. AIDS is said to have passed to humans from chimpanzees through infected blood. AIDS caused a world-wide pandemic through this particular strain - HIV-1 subgroup M.

READ: Manushi Chillar Aims To Spread AIDS Awareness Among Women In India

Prevention, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment:

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have specified two preventive antiretroviral medications - pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Other preventive measures include safe sex and avoiding the use of unsterilized or used needles.

Some early warning signs of AIDS according to WebMD are -

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash
  • Muscle and joint pain.

The diagnosis of AIDS is through Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test which screens the blood for antibodies. Other tests include a viral load test and the CD4 count test. Viruses can be controlled up to a certain extent through antiretroviral therapy or ART. There is no definite cure for AIDS so far. There are a number of anti-human immunodeficiency virus drugs such as -

  • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)
  • Nucleoside or nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)
  • Protease inhibitors (PIs)
  • Entry or fusion inhibitors and Integrase inhibitors

Many global leaders are working towards making AIDS more acceptable in society and eradicating it altogether.

Each World AIDS Day has a certain theme that is followed the entire year in efforts to shed light on HIV-related illnesses and how to overcome them. This year’s theme is Communities make the difference. There were multi-year themes like Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise and Getting to Zero, Zero deaths and Zero discrimination.

Around 37.9 million people living with HIV at the end of 2018, according to data released by WHO. Around 21,00,000 people were living with HIV in India in 2017, says UNAIDS. The statistics revealed by UNAIDS suggests that there has been progress in the number of AIDS-related deaths since 2010, with a 56 per cent decrease, from 16,000 deaths to 69,000 deaths. The number of new HIV infections has decreased, from 1,20,000 to 88,000 in the same period.

Myths and Misconceptions:          

Myth 

Fact

You can get HIV from kissing.

Saliva does have HIV, but it is so small in amount that it cannot be passed from kissing.

One acquires HIV from sharing food and/or utensils.

HIV can’t be passed on through sharing food, drinks or cooking utensils, even if the person preparing your food is HIV infected.

HIV is passed through toilet seats, tables, door handles, cutlery, sharing towels.

You can’t get HIV from any of these as it can only be transmitted through specific bodily fluids. 

HIV can be prevented by indulging in intercourse with a virgin, showering after sex or taking the contraceptive pill.

The only methods of HIV prevention are condoms or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). 

READ: Harsh Vardhan On World AIDS Day: 'Let Us Shun Discrimination In Our Thoughts And Actions'

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