Daily Archives: June 26, 2012
We hear about it. We talk about it. And then we dismiss it. Until it happens to someone you know - an acquaintance, a friend, a family member. But are we concerned enough to think it could happen to us?
HIV/AIDS – What is it, really?
Today is National HIV Testing Day. But what do we really know about this deadly disease?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection/ Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a disease that affects the human immune system. It is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Due to its impact on the immune system (weakens the immune system), HIV/AIDS increases the likelihood of infections, viral flues and tumors that do not normally affect those with healthy, working immune systems. These problems increase and worsen over time as the disease progresses.
HIV/AIDS is a huge health problem and is considered a pandemic due to its active presence in many parts of the world. The disease is transmitted mainly through sexual intercourse, hypodermic needles, and contact with contaminated blood. It is also transmitted from mother to child through pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding.
Is There a Cure?
There is no known cure for HIV/AIDS, but antiretroviral treatments can slow down its course, and may even allow patients to lead a near-normal life expectancy. However, this treatment is very expensive and may have side effects. According to UNAIDS 2011, approximately 34 million people have HIV globally, a statistic as of 2010.
Diagnosis and Testing
HIV testing is recommended for anyone diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, as well as those known to be at high risk, such as drug users. HIV is diagnosed through laboratory testing, where they look for antibodies in blood or saliva.
While doctors recommend testing for patients with risk of contracting the disease, many people choose not to get tested for fear of being diagnosed HIV positive. It is extremely important to get tested and get treatment as soon as possible. Significant improvements have been made over the last 50 years since the disease was recognized by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1981.
Here in the United States, access to treatment and care is readily available, more so than anywhere else in the world; yet statistics of people infected (and new diagnoses) remain about the same (UNAID 2011). This shows that the problem is not access to care, but rather education and awareness and of course, the realization that it can, in fact, happen to you.
Testing is crucial to detect, treat and prevent HIV infection. Getting tested is the first step in receiving access to health care and support systems whose mission is to ensure your survival and give you a good quality of life. Getting tested and then treated is important not just for you, but also to reduce the chance of you transmitting the disease to others.
Get Educated. Get Tested. Help Prevent HIV/AIDS.
Sources (Also linked above):
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