December 1 is celebrated as World AIDS Day. It was the first global health day to be celebrated which began in 1988. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus which infects human beings causing the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The virus comes from Central Africa from a breed of chimpanzee. While it is present in the animal it is termed as Simian Immunodeficiency Virus or the SIV.
It is guessed that when humans hunted them for food, only then did the virus came in contact with humans in the late 1800s and with time it spread all over in Africa. In the United States it has been known to exist since 1970s. Currently, it is considered an epidemic.
The disease is asymptomatic- i.e. a kind of silent killer, you may not even know that you are infected until it is too late. HIV infection has no known cure, yet. It can, however, be controlled with proper treatment. The transmission among human beings occurs through contact of contaminated syringes, unprotected intercourse, unsafe blood transfusion, from nursing mothers to their newborn.
There is a very common misconception that needs to be addressed. HIV is not transmitted through mosquito/tick bites, saliva, through air, physical contact (shaking hands, embracing etc) or sexual activities sans exchange of fluids.
Half-knowledge can be dangerous. People who do not understand the disease completely tend to be apathetic towards the people infected. Through rigorous campaigning by governmental and non-governmental organisations, AIDS is being addressed and people are being educated about it.
There are three stages that occur after the person is infected:
Acute HIV infection
Chronic HIV infection
In the first stage, the patient isn't aware of the infection and the body reacts like it would to any unidentified foreign material. The virus is highly reproducing inside the body and the infection rate is dangerously high. Only a nucleic test can show that the person is infected as all symptoms resemble the common flu virus.
Then, in the chronic stage, the virus reproduces at a slower rate but the person is still potentially contagious. Although, proper medication can control the infection and the infected person can lead a normal life. This is a generally very long period, spanning over a decade and termed as 'Latency Period' in clinical terms.
The last, most dangerous stage is the one when the HIV cells have taken over the immunity of the person who, at best, lives for three years. These few years are full of agony with the person getting infected repeatedly by little viruses, pathogens etc. There is no mechanism to protect the patient from any kind of disease. Pneumonia, tuberculosis, meningitis, lymphoma are some of the serious illness that affect the person.
Untreated HIV virus is a time-bomb. This year, 2020 World AIDS Day, has the slogan of 'Resilience and Impact'. It focuses on the inner fight- mental and emotional an HIV infected person undergoes and the impact it has in the lives of the people around him. The Day seeks to calculates if people are able to fully understand the seriousness of the situation. Young couples have begun to be more cautious about the disease and choose protection.
HIV is something that can be prevented with a little bit of precaution since it is not a communicable disease. Let's together end this epidemic by each being a little responsible and not overlook the fact in face of the fun.