Worlds AIDS Day 2021- A special focus

Worlds AIDS Day 2021- A special focus

World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1. This comes as an opportunity for people all around the world to stand in unity and fight against HIV. It shows support for the HIV-infected people, and to remember those who died due to HIV-related illnesses. World AIDS Day was founded in the year 1988, also it was the first-ever global health day. People show their solidarity by wearing red ribbons to bring awareness to HIV-infected people. As per the reports, there are about 38 million people around the world who have HIV. Today in the History of Public Health, it is regarded as the longest-running disease.

AIDS is nothing but the later stage of an HIV infection, after the body’s immune system is badly damaged. A person is said to have progressed to the later stage of HIV infection is when :

  • The count of their CD4 cells falls below 200 cells per cubic millimeter, whereas in a healthy immune system the CD4 count falls between 500 and 1600 cells/mm3.
  • Regardless of their CD4 count, the individual shall develop opportunistic infections.

People with AIDS typically survive for 3 years without HIV medicine. But if the individual has developed an opportunistic infection, the life expectancy falls to 1 year. But they can still be saved at this stage with HIV medicine, that is why HIV testing plays a very important role.

History of World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day was initiated to capitalize on the media gap between the U.S. presidential elections and Christmas in the year 1988. James Bunn, a broadcast journalist, and his friend Thomas Netter decided that December 1 would be the ideal day and spent a few months preparing for the inaugural event. The first year focused on children and youth to bring awareness and the impact of AIDS on families.

The past years had great impacts,

  • In 1996, The World AIDS campaign was conducted by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, this expanded the scope of the overall project.
  • In 2004, The campaign for World AIDS Day was registered as a non-profit organization in the Netherlands.
  • In 2018, World AIDS Day marked its 30th anniversary, with the theme of testing and the community has aimed to diagnose 90% of the World's population.

How does HIV spread?

HIV gets into direct contact through certain bodily fluids that have been detected with the load of the virus. Those fluids are Blood, Semen (cum), Rectal fluids, Vaginal Fluids, and Breast Milk. While the transmission occurs through these fluids, the virus gets into the bloodstream of the HIV-negative person through the above-mentioned fluid or by injection. HIV is spread through specific ways, let's go through them in detail:

    HIV spread through common ways:

  • Having intercourse without protection
  • Sharing the used injection of the infected person.
  • HIV spread through other common ways:

  • During the time of breastfeeding, the virus is transmitted from mother to child. But with the use of medicines, it is very much possible to lower the risk of transmission of HIV from mother to child.
  • Getting in contact with any sharp object or stuck with the contaminated needle of an HIV patient. It is quite risky for health care professionals, as they have to be very careful in disposing of the used injections.
  • HIV spread through rare cases:

  • During a blood transfusion, organ transplants are contaminated with HIV infection. The risk is found to be extremely low in such cases,
  • Contact from the broken skin, wounds, or other injuries
  • Kissing the partners who have bleeding gums, or blood entering the bloodstream, but be aware that HIV does not spread through saliva.
  • Sharing food with HIV-infected people is one of the rarest possibilities.
  • Through oral sex, the chances of contamination are extremely low in this case.

How do you know if you have HIV?

To know if the person is infected or not, the only way is to get tested. It is a relatively easy process. You can contact your healthcare provider for the test, or many other clinics and hospitals conduct the test. There are also options to conduct the test at home through the testing kit which is available in pharmacies and online. Few of the health departments provide free self-testing kits.

What are the symptoms of HIV?

While the signs can vary from person to person, there are cases where it takes several years to develop symptoms. Some stages are described below:

  • Stage 1: Acute primary infection

  • This is the very first stage the person comes in contact with a virus, it is more like having the flu. After about four weeks of contact with the virus, the individual might experience flu symptoms. The symptoms include fever, sore throat, rashes, swollen glands, stomach upset, joint aches, and muscle pain.

    These symptoms occur due to the reaction of your body cells to HIV. The infected cells are circulating through the body via the bloodstream. In reaction to this, the body shall produce HIV antibodies, this process is called seroconversion.

  • Stage 2: Asymptomatic Stage

  • The individual would have been through the first stage of infection but may start to get better. Though in a few cases the virus was not active for up to 10-15 years. However, the virus will still be active and infect the cells around by making a replica of itself. If it is left untreated for a long period it shall start damaging the immune system.

  • Stage 3: Symptomatic HIV infection

  • In the third stage, the individual's immune system will be damaged severely. They are prone to infections, the body would have lost resistance to fight against other infections. They are known as opportunistic infections. The symptoms include weight loss, night sweats, chronic diarrhea, fever, regular infections, mouth ulcers, skin rashes, persistent cough, and serious diseases.

World AIDS Day theme

Over the years the themes have mirrored the goals of health authorities to step ahead of the awareness and education as a global operation. In the late 90s, the awareness of antiretroviral therapy focused on communities and the key barriers shifted to global prevention efforts and disempowerment of children and women.

In 2002, The Global Fund was founded and in 2003, the U.S. President founded the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which was called the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Later it shifted its focus on ensuring sustained international investment in high-income countries with the Keep the Promise campaigns from 2005-2010.

From 2011-2015, it advanced in global drug coverage, and its breakthrough, made the policymakers promote the end of the epidemic. It was further accelerated in 2016, with the launch of the Access Equity Rights Now campaign, and it has aimed to end the spread of HIV by 2030.

This year, World AIDS Day 2021 theme is “End inequalities. End AIDS”

To focus on reaching people that were left behind, WHO is now highlighting the inequalities in the society and its access to essential HIV services.

Worlds AIDS Day 2021- A special focus

World AIDS Day is the annual observance that aims to bring awareness of AIDS. Worlds AIDS Day 2021 highlights the social stigma attached to the people being affected by HIV. Approximately 38 million people across the globe are affected by HIV, among which 36 million people are adults, and 1.7 million were children. More than 53% of affected people were women and girls. But on the brighter side, about 31% of decline has been observed in the new HIV infection. In terms of testing, 84% of people knew their status and the remaining 16% still needed access to testing.

Despite so many advances in the field of science regarding the prevention and treatment of HIV, there are people still who do not have access to its prevention, care, and treatment. It not only has its impact on the individual but also the families and the community. With all the preventive measures and awareness the number of new HIV infections has been a decline in the past years. With the new theme and new agenda, there is a drastic improvement to bring awareness regarding the disease. World AIDS Day will achieve its target in the future.