02 December 2012

Every Day is a World AIDS Day

Commemorating the fact that it was yesterday when HIV/AIDS was all over news and is not there today while for millions and millions of people every day is an HIV/AIDS day, Eszter reminds us of the nature of the virus and of the pandemic:

"1st December is the international awareness day of one of the most dispiteous diseases, the AIDS since 1988. This infection is caused by a virus, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which enters into the DNA of the cells of the immune system, there reproduces and makes the immune system helpless against pathogen agents. In the long run due to the failure of the immune system fatal opportunistic infections causes death in the infected persons. The ways of transmission are sexual transmission, using intravenous drugs with common needles, nowadays rarely but blood transfusion means a risk factor as well and children can be infected during pregnancy, labour and delivery, and breast feeding.

Recent studies say that if HIV carriers’ babies are fed only with breast-milk the risk of getting infected is up to zero percent. Though if these babies need to get additional nutrition, the risk grows up to 20%. If an HIV positive woman wishes to have a baby it is not impossible, it needs only correct planning: delivering with caesarean operation and clearing up if the mother has enough breast-milk to feed the baby or not.

Time to time humankind has to face diseases which are considered to be fatal. It is enough if we remember Black Death which rated incurable to 1894. Before the immunization era plague killed one-third, almost half of the European population. Our hope is that researchers will be able to develop the immunization of HIV soon. The signs are encouraging.

Till then the numbers of the infected persons are sadly growing. Nowadays 34 million people live with HIV. In 2011 2,5 million people were newly infected (330.000 of them are children), and 1,7 million died by reason of AIDS.
The aim of the World AIDS Day is to raise awareness on prevention (to stop the spreading of the virus) and to educate people about the ways of transmission. Every people are apprehensive of the Unknown, this is why the most important challenge is to improve knowledge to reduce stigmatization. The Getting to Zero campaign begun last year and this will be the theme of the World AIDS Days to 2015.  

Getting to Zero is double-meaning motto: reduce both the new infections and the discrimination to zero. And IPPF has introduced a very important campaign in 2010, called Criminalize Hate, Not HIV with a special site HIV and the Law.

In 2010 I had the possibility to join a meeting where HIV positive people could share their experiences. This meeting was closed; these people were very careful and tried to keep their secret very strictly. This was a good place for the newly detected HIV positives to get acquainted with other patients, and to help how to survive the first period after getting the positive result. Even their age and the length of their positive status were diverse: from 18 to 60 years old and for one week positive to 30 years ago positive. For the question “What has changed?” the answer was ambivalent: “Both nothing and everything.”

Nothing, because they are still the same person who they were a day before, but everything, because in the future they would have to take care of themselves and their partner more. If every volunteer tried to call only 10 people’s attention for the prevention we could approach the number of the newly infected peoples to zero. Please take part in an awareness campaign held in your surroundings, start planning the AIDS Candlelight Memorial and help us to reduce the number of the victims."

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