World AIDS Day is the time to create awareness about the dreadful disease, thus as the World AIDS Day is two days down the line let’s try and understand how HIV is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and the reality of living with HIV today.
How HIV is transmitted:
Sexual contact with an infected person, anal or vaginal intercourse without a condom with a partner who is either positive or does not know his or her HIV status account for the vast majority of sexually-transmitted HIV cases around the world, though till now its learnt that oral sex is not an efficient route of HIV transmission.
Sharing needles, syringes or other injection equipment with someone who is infected may also transmit the disease; nevertheless the virus only sustains or has a life span of few minutes when exposed to air though there are immense chances
to get infected. It is always good to use a safer way of getting injected by using clean and new needles, to help prevent the spread of HIV. This way of transmission is common with drug users.
Mother-to-child transmission, is the most appalling way the disease gets transmitted. Babies born to HIV-positive women can be infected with the virus before or during birth, or through breastfeeding after birth. However there are measures a mother can take during the time of the pregnancy.
Transmission via donated blood or blood clotting factors, conversely this is now very rare in now as the blood is being screened. HIV has been detected in saliva, tears and urine. However, HIV in these fluids is only found in extremely low concentrations. What’s more, there hasn’t been a single case of HIV transmission through these fluids reported. HIV cannot be
transmitted through day-to-day activities such as shaking hands, hugging or casual kissing. You cannot become infected from a toilet seat, drinking fountain, or sharing food or eating utensils with someone who is positive. You also cannot get HIV from mosquitoes.
How HIV is prevented:
Use a new condom every time you have sex, if you don’t know the HIV status of your sexual partner.
Tell your sexual partners if you have HIV, it’s important to tell anyone with whom you’ve had sex that you’re HIV-positive. Your partners need to be tested and to receive medical care if they have the virus.
Use a clean needle. If you use a needle to inject drugs, make sure it’s sterile and don’t share it. Take advantage of needle exchange programs in your community and consider seeking help for your drug use.
If you’re pregnant, get medical care right away. If you’re HIV-positive, you may pass the infection to your baby. But if you receive treatment during pregnancy, you can cut your baby’s risk by as much as two-thirds.
Reality of living with HIV:
The continuous development of new and improved medical treatment, both for HIV and the illnesses associated with it, has led to major changes in the pattern of HIV disease. Use of a combination of antiretroviral drugs has been shown to prevent the weakening of the immune system by HIV.
Antiretroviral therapy as a drug has become available in fixed-dose combination pills, for many people living with HIV the combination therapy now involves taking just one or two pills, once a day.
HIV or AIDS is a threat to social and economic development. Treatment of HIV patients must be accompanied with other social measures to enhance their physical, mental, and social wellbeing. HIV can lead to poverty, affecting particularly women and young people especially in India.
Weakened family and societal support systems, decreased participation in formal education of young people as a result of AIDS in the family, along with depleted family income due to loss of work, and poor disease management present additional vulnerabilities. When it comes to living in India subjective with the stereotype creates a lot of problem for patients while it becomes more than a disease.
You can also show your support for people living with HIV on World AIDS Day by wearing a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness and support.
World AIDS Day is also a great opportunity to raise money for NAT (National AIDS Trust) and show your support for people living with HIV. If you feel inspired to hold an event, bake sale or simply sell red ribbons.