Dr. Mustapha rashid
Specialist Family Medicine
World AIDS Day, observed each year on December 1, is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV, and remember those who have died from an HIV-related illness. Started in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day.
Facts and Figures
- 38 million people globally were living with HIV
- 25.4 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy
- 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV
- 690,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses in the past year
(AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight infection and disease.Transmission
(AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight infection and disease.
- From blood transfusions
- By having sex
- By sharing needles
- During pregnancy or delivery or through breast-feeding
Anyone of any age, race, sex or sexual orientation can be infected with HIV/AIDS. However, you are at greatest risk of HIV/AIDS if you:
- Have unprotected sex
- Have a Sexually Transmitted Infection
- Use IV drugs
SymptomsThe symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary, depending on the phase of infection.
Primary infection (Acute HIV)Some people infected by HIV develop a flu-like illness within two to four weeks after the virus enters the body. This illness, known as primary (acute) HIV infection, may last for a few weeks.
Clinical latent infection (Chronic HIV)In this stage of infection, HIV is still present in the body and in white blood cells. However, many people may not have any symptoms or infections during this time. This stage can last for many years if you are not receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Symptomatic HIV infectionAs the virus continues to multiply and destroy your immune cells — the cells in your body that help fight off germs — you may develop mild infections or chronic signs and symptoms such as: Fever, Fatigue, Swollen lymph nodes — often one of the first signs of HIV infection, Diarrhea, Weight loss.
Untreated, HIV typically turns into AIDS in about 8 to 10 years. When AIDS occurs, your immune system has been severely damaged. You will be more likely to develop opportunistic infections or opportunistic cancers — diseases that would not usually cause illness in a person with a healthy immune system.
TreatmentAt present, there is no way to cure HIV infection or remove the virus from the body. However, drug therapy can slow down the virus and the damage that it does to the immune system. Other drugs are available to prevent or treat opportunistic infections that can be life threatening to the person with HIV infection. HIV drugs are designed to slow the reproduction of the virus. The recommended treatment for HIV is a combination of three or more HIV drugs. This treatment is called highly active anti-retroviral therapy or HAART
- The best way to protect yourself is to avoid activities that put you at risk. Always protect yourself. Use latex condoms (rubbers) whenever you have any type of sex.
- Consider getting tested if you are at risk—it is really important to be aware of your HIV status.
- If you are a healthcare worker, you are at a slightly higher risk of getting HIV from a needle-stick injury or skin contact with contaminated fluid. You should:
- Always wear protective equipment when dealing with blood and body fluids
- Follow careful hand-washing guidelines when dealing with such fluids
- Follow safe handling guidelines for needles and sharp instruments.
- Be aware of post-exposure policies at your workplace
- If you are a person with HIV who is in a relationship with a person who is HIV-negative, you should also be on a medication regimen.
- If you are pregnant and have HIV, you can take medicine that will reduce the risk of passing the virus to your child.