Nearly 37 million people all over the world are living with HIV. The World Health Organization calls it one of our time’s major public health issues, and over 35 million lives have been lost to HIV.
Today is World AIDS Day, a day that does not only remember all those lives lost, but also looks to the future and the fight against HIV and AIDS.
This year, the WHO focuses on the theme “Everyone Counts” to raise awareness about the importance of making affordable care accessible to everyone living with HIV.
What is HIV and AIDS?
HIV is the shortened name for “Human Immunodeficiency Virus”. It’s a virus that weakens the body’s immune system by destroying immune cells and their functions. With a weakened immune system, the body can’t protect itself from infections, and in some cases, certain types of cancer.
The most advanced stage of HIV is called AIDS. AIDS is short for “Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome”. It can take anything between 2 to 15 years for AIDS to develop.
There is no cure for HIV, but there are treatments that can suppress the virus. These treatments mean that the immune system can build up its strength and functions.
Ending the stigma
One of the most important things that World AIDS Day raises awareness about is that the stigma surrounding the condition needs to end. Sharing knowledge about HIV is key in this mission.
One of the most common misconceptions about HIV is that it transmits through touch. This is not true: HIV transmits through bodily fluids like blood, and unprotected sex.
This means that a person cannot become infected through – for example – hugging, kissing, hand-shaking and sharing food and drinks.
The stigma forces many people living with HIV to become isolated. With this year’s World AIDS Day slogan “Everyone Counts”, the WHO hopes to create better understanding and inclusion for people living with HIV and AIDS, a mission we at Trialbee find incredibly important to support!