World AIDS Day: Know your status

Prevention is the best since there is no cure

Sand sculptor Sudarsan Pattnaik creates a sand art to spread awareness and extend solidarity towards people living with AIDS, on the eve of World AIDS Day in Puri. PTI photo

December 1, is observed as World AIDS Day. This year, the theme is "Know Your Status".  Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that more than 9.4 million people living still without knowing their status. There are a lot of people in India still not aware of this deadly disease which does not have a cure yet. Moreover, there are misconceptions among people about the disease across the world. Few of the common myths are listed here.

Myths and HIV/AIDS

There is a cure for HIV/AIDS: Some people do not follow precautions since they possess the wrong knowledge that there is a cure for HIV/AIDS

Sex with a virgin: Another myth is that a person, who has HIV/AIDS, can be cured by having sex with a virgin.

Spells and herbal medicine: Spiritual or religious rituals, as well as herbal medicines, cannot cure HIV/AIDS

Contraceptive pills: Taking contraceptive pills before sexual intercourse with an infected person or after will not cure HIV/AIDS.
 

HIV is NOT transmitted through:

Kissing: A small amount of the HIV virus is present in the saliva of an HIV infected person. So, the infection cannot be transmitted by merely a kiss.

Sharing food: HIV virus cannot survive outside the human body and on surfaces. Therefore,   sharing food with an infected person will not make you get infected.   Also using the toilet seat of an infected person is not a problem.

Sneezing and coughing: HIV virus cannot survive in the air. Therefore, you do not need to worry about getting infected if a person who has the virus coughs or sneezes.  

Sweat, tears, urine and faeces: HIV does not get transmitted through all these mediums.

New or sterilised needles: New or sterilised needles do not transmit HIV virus.  

Water: HIV virus cannot survive even in water. Swimming pools, baths, showers, washing clothes and drinking water used by an infected person cannot give you an infection.

Masturbation: Mutual masturbation, fingering and hand-jobs are safe. However, the use of sex toys that are shared between partners is risky. Using a new condom on the toy will keep you safe.

Used condoms: HIV virus survives only for a very short time outside the human body. So even if a condom has the sperm of infected person in it, it will be dead within a short time. Nevertheless, it still is risky.

HIV is transmitted through

HIV mainly transmitted through body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal or anal secretion and breast milk

Unprotected sex (not using a condom)

Mother to child during pregnancy

Infected blood donation or organ transplants

Injecting the drugs or making tattoos and piercing with needles that have been used by an infected person.

The verdict

The only prevention for HIV/AIDS is using protected condoms or Pre-exposure prophylaxis(PrEP).

Pre-exposure prophylaxis(PrEP) is taken after realising that you have taken an HIV risk. PEP will stop the virus from becoming an infection and it should be done within 72 hours to be effective. After all, health is wealth and in case of HIV/AIDS prevention is the best since there is no cure

UNAIDS Report

In the year 2016, India had 80 000 cases of new HIV infections and 62 000 AIDS-related deaths reported. The report highlights  2 100 000 people living with HIV in the same year, among whom 49% were receiving antiretroviral therapy for the survival.
 

Major sections mostly affected  by HIV in India

Sex workers (HIV prevalence 2.2%)
Gay men and men who involve in sex with other men (HIV prevalence 4.3%)
Drug users by injecting (HIV prevalence 9.9%)
Transgender people (HIV prevalence 7.2%)
Since 2010, new HIV infections have reduced by 46% and AIDS-related deaths have come down by 22%. 


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