Break Out the Red Ribbons for World AIDS Day
Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day. I was all of 3 or 4 years old when news about AIDS and HIV were the latest headlines. It wasn’t until I was almost 11 years old that we started having HIV/AIDS education in school. Today, while we’re better informed about how it is contracted and what the treatments are, more research is needed to work on eradicating this virus that affects millions.
What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.Â It develops as a series of diseases and infections that occur as a result of a deficient immune system.Â The condition of some who are HIV positive (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) may be a factor in them developing AIDS because of their impaired immune system, but the two are not one in the same.Â As research continues, millions are living with treating HIV and staying off the development of AIDS.
Where did AIDS come from?
Over the years, I’ve heard people talk about the many theories of the origin of the virus.Â From the personal research I’ve done, the only sound direction of the origin is that it started in Western Africa, possibly from hunting, but the date of when keeps changes as more research is conducted.Â When I was a kid, it was thought to have come around in the late 70’s/early 80’s.Â Later, it was thought that it was first seen in the late 60’s.Â More research in 1998 found it in tissues from 1959.Â And yet, a study from 2008 showed the date of origin as between 1884 to 1924.
Regardless of your feelings towards its origin, it’s here now and now is the time that awareness for prevention and treatment needs to be spread.
How many people are living with AIDS?
UNAIDS estimates that at the end of 2008, 33.4 million people world wide live with HIV/AIDS, with 2.7 million being newly diagnosed cases.Â Africa alone has 14 million orphans with AIDS.Â North America accounted for 1.4 million cases, 25,000 of which died from the disease.Â Since the beginning of the, epidemic, over half a million Americans have died of AIDS.
How can we stop the epidemic?
Prevention, knowledge and treatment research are three very crucial elements that can help slow down the spread of this disease.
HIV can be transmitted in three ways: sexual transmission, transmission through blood, and mother-to-child transmission.Â Each transmission route has specific methods of prevention.Â Read more about HIV/AIDS prevention.
Simply knowing your HIV status can help you stop the spread.Â If you know your status and you’re positive, you can take precautions to not infect others.Â If you’re negative, you can take precautions to protect yourself from becoming infected.
You can support research scientists and doctors who are working on every day on ways to better treat, prevent, and even cure HIV and AIDS.Â In the early years of the virus, hearing HIV or AIDS for many meant a death sentence.Â Years later, it became a disease that, although difficult to have, could be lived with.Â Hopefully soon, we’ll hear news about vaccines and cures.
So if you take nothing else away from this post, please, at a minimum, know your status and read as much information as you can to better educate yourself about HIV and AIDS.
Statistics courtesy of Avert.org.
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