World AIDS Day 2020
Every year on December the 1st, the world observes World AIDS Day. The day aims at raising awareness and uniting efforts of individuals and governments to stand against this virus. AIDS is the Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome, the most advanced stage of the disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is a major global public health issue, having claimed almost 33 million lives, while there were an estimated 38.0 million people living with HIV at the end of 2019. HIV targets the immune system and weakens people’s defense against many infections and some types of cancer. As the virus destroys and impairs the function of immune cells, infected individuals gradually become immunodeficient. Immune function is typically measured by CD4 cell count. In the first few weeks after infection, people may experience no symptoms or an influenza-like illness including fever, headache, rash or sore throat. While the infection progresses, they can develop other signs and symptoms, such as swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, diarrhea and cough. Without treatment, patients could also develop severe illnesses such as tuberculosis (TB), cryptococcal meningitis, severe bacterial infections, and cancers such as lymphomas and Kaposi’s sarcoma. HIV can be transmitted via the exchange of a variety of body fluids from infected people, such as blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions. HIV can also be transmitted from a mother to her child during pregnancy and delivery. Individuals cannot become infected through ordinary day-to-day contact such as kissing, hugging, shaking hands, or sharing personal objects, food or water. HIV is suppressed by treatment regimens composed by a combination of 3 or more Anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs. Current ART does not cure HIV infection but highly suppresses viral replication and allows the patient’s immune system recovery to strengthen and regain the capacity to stand against infections.
Source: 1. World Health Organization. “HIV/AIDS”. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hiv-aids. Accessed 30 December 2020.