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World AIDS Day 2018: Theme, Significance, AIDS Treatment, awareness

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New Delhi, Dec 1: Today is the World AIDS Day 2018 and the theme of this year's AIDS Day is 'Know your status'. AIDS is one of the mosty feared diseases, mainly because it has no cure.

The purpose of Worlds AIDS Day is to educate people about HIV. Last year, the World AIDS Day theme was "My Health, My Right." The aim of this year's drive is to encourage people worldwide, to get them tested.

Representational Image

What is AIDS?

Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Following initial infection, a person may not notice any symptoms or may experience a brief period of influenza-like illness. Typically, this is followed by a prolonged period with no symptoms.

As the infection progresses, it interferes more with the immune system, increasing the risk of developing common infections such as tuberculosis, as well as other opportunistic infections, and tumors that rarely affect people who have working immune systems. These late symptoms of infection are referred to as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

[HIV/AIDS Act, 2017 to be implemented from Sep 10]

Why is awareness about AIDS important?

Significant progress has been made in the AIDS response since 1988, and today three in four people living with HIV know their status. But still 9.4 million people aren't aware that they're HIV-positive as they haven't been tested. This also raises the risk of the illness spreading unknowingly on account of unprotected sex.

Unfortunately, many barriers to HIV testing remain. Stigma and discrimination still deters people from taking an HIV test. Access to confidential HIV testing is still an issue of concern. Many people still only get tested after becoming ill and symptomatic.

How does AIDS spread?

HIV is spread primarily by unprotected sex (including anal and oral sex), contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needles, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. Some bodily fluids, such as saliva and tears, do not transmit HIV. Methods of prevention include safe sex, needle exchange programs, treating those who are infected, and male circumcision. Disease in a baby can often be prevented by giving both the mother and child antiretroviral medication. There is no cure or vaccine; however, antiretroviral treatment can slow the course of the disease and may lead to a near-normal life expectancy. Treatment is recommended as soon as the diagnosis is made. Without treatment, the average survival time after infection is 11 years.

Significance of World AIDS Day:

World AIDS Day originated at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention. Since then, every year United Nations agencies, governments and civil society join together to campaign around specific themes related to AIDS. World AIDS Day is one of the eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Malaria Day and World Hepatitis Day. (Content source - Wikipedia)

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