World AIDS day is held on 1st December each year. It is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by HIV infection. Also, it is the opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to remember people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first worldwide health event, held for the first time in 1988.
HIV infection in India was first detected in 1986 among female sex workers in Chennai. Today, with an estimated 2.4 million infections, India is home to the second largest population of people living with HIV and AIDS. Globally there are an estimated 34 million people living with HIV.
HIV/AIDS at a glance
- HIV infection causes AIDS.
- HIV has few or no symptoms for up to 10 years or more.
- There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but treatment is available.
- HIV can spread during intercourse/sex play.
- Latex and female condoms offer very good protection against HIV.
We all want to protect ourselves and each other from HIV infection. Learning about HIV/AIDS is an important first step. Here are some of the most common questions people ask about HIV/AIDS. We hope you find the answers helpful, whether you think you may have HIV, have been diagnosed with it, know someone who has it, or just curious about it.
What is HIV/AIDS?
AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is caused by a virus called HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). The virus enters the human body and attacks the immune system, making people vulnerable to infections and diseases. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV.
What are the Symptoms?
Some people develop symptoms shortly after being infected. But usually, symptoms take more than 10 years to appear. There are several stages of HIV disease. The symptoms may include:
- Swollen Lymph Nodes
- Slight fever
- Night Sweats
- Fatigue and muscle aches
These symptoms may last for only a few weeks and then there are no symptoms for many years. That is why it can be hard to know if you have HIV.
How can I know if I have HIV?
You can’t know for sure until you get tested. About 1 in 6 people do not know that they are infected with HIV. So testing is very important.
How does HIV spread?
The most common ways HIV can spread are:
- Unprotected Sex
- From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding
- Injecting drugs with a needle exposed by the infected blood
- Infected blood donations or organ transplants
- Healthcare worker who takes the blood samples of the infected patient
HIV is not transmitted by simple casual contacts such as kissing, hugging, sharing drinking glasses, swimming pools, and mosquito bite.
Is There a Cure for HIV?
There is currently no cure, but treatment such as Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), a combination of medicines designed to strengthen the immune system is available. ART can’t cure HIV but help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. It also reduces the risk of HIV transmission.
Where Can I Get a Test for HIV?
HIV test is available at all the hospitals and health clinics. It is the only way to be sure that you have HIV. Testing is quick, easy, painless, confidential and almost always free.
HIV infection is not the end of life. People with HIV can lead a healthy life with appropriate medical care and awareness.