WiRED International Observes World AIDS Day

BY OLIVIA SPIRITO

T

 

he World Health Organization (WHO) states that around 36.7 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. December 1 is World AIDS day, and the slogan this year is “Everybody Counts.” This rallying cry is launching the campaign to provide every person with access to safe, affordable and effective HIV/AIDS care. This care includes proper diagnosis and medications to help better treat people living with HIV and AIDS.

 

WIRED International provides a series of 15 health education modules about HIV/AIDS. The training covers diagnosis, daily life with HIV, infections, cancers related to HIV, treatment options, caring for someone with AIDS at home, HIV information for children and teens, prevention of transmission between mother and child, and nutrition for people who are HIV positive.

 

Last year alone 1.8 million people were diagnosed with HIV. This virus attacks the body’s immune system, and, left untreated, will lead to AIDS, which can cause numerous diseases and related cancers. However, antiretroviral therapy (ART) drugs can help an infected person live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. This treatment option not only reduces the amount of the virus in the body but greatly reduces a person’s chances of transmitting the virus.

 

According to WHO, by the middle of 2017, 20.9 million people living with HIV had received ART. These statistics indicate that ART treatment is effective and is saving thousands of lives.

 

A new Director-General of WHO will be elected in May 2018. The three finalists for the job cite HIV/AIDS as the top health priority worldwide. The 2017 World AIDS Day calls for universal health coverage of HIV in order to live up to the campaign’s promise that “Everybody Counts.”

 


HIV Facts

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, which attacks a person’s immune system. The HIV virus cannot be cured, so a person who is HIV-positive will always be HIV-positive. The virus infects immune system cells, which then spread to other cells. The loss of immune cells means that the body can more easily get other infections and diseases. AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is the final stage of HIV infection.

 

HIV is spread through certain body fluids such as blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluid and breast milk. HIV is not spread through air or water, tears, sweat, shaking hands or sharing dishes or drinking glasses. Needle-sharing when injecting drugs, tattooing with unsterilized needles and transfusions of tainted blood can trigger HIV. Mother-to-child transmission is a real concern, because HIV-positive pregnant women can give the virus to their babies in the womb, during birth and through breast feeding.

 

HIV prevention consists of either abstaining from sex or practicing safe sex, which means using condoms correctly, being responsible, staying sober and choosing monogamy. Treatment also helps prevent transmission to others by reducing the virus in a person’s body.

 


ART Treatment for HIV

Treatment for HIV includes anti-retroviral therapy (ART), medication that people living with HIV take to stay healthy. ART reduces the amount of virus in the body, which keeps the immune system functioning and prevents illness. Another benefit of reducing the amount of virus in the body is that it helps prevent transmission to others through sex, needle-sharing, and from mother to child during pregnancy and birth. This is sometimes referred to as “ART as prevention” or “treatment as prevention.”

 

Text taken from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

Test your Knowledge about HIV/AIDS

 

1. TRUE or FALSE? Being HIV positive means you have AIDS.

 True
 False

2. Mother to child HIV transmission often can be prevented by providing _______ to both mothers and their newborn infants.

 Antiviral treatment
 Antibiotics
 Blood transfusions
 Anti-inflammatory medications

3. TRUE or FALSE? The HIV test indicates if a person has AIDS.

 True
 False

 

 

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