World AIDS Day – How Aware is Visakhapatnam?

hiv, visakhapatnam
Image for representation

Designated on December 1 every year since 1988, World AIDS Day is being dedicated to raise awareness of the AIDS [acquired immune deficiency syndrome] pandemic caused by the spread of the HIV infection, and mourning those who have died of the deadly HIV disease. Many government organizations and health officials, non-governmental organisations and individuals around the world observe the day often with the education on AIDS prevention and control.  It is one of the eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organisation [WHO]. The president of USA made an official proclamation on World AIDS Day.

According to a report, AIDS has killed more than 42 million people worldwide till 2015 and an estimated 34.8 million people are living with HIV virus. This makes it one of the most hazardous diseases and an important global public health issue in the recorded history.

World AIDS Day was first conceived in August 1987 by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Bunn and Netter took their idea to Dr. Jonathan Mann, Director of the Global Programme on AIDS (now known as UNAIDS). Dr. Mann liked the concept, approved it, and agreed with the recommendation that the first observance of World AIDS Day should be on 1 December 1988. In its first two years, the theme of World AIDS Day focused on children and young people. While the choice of this theme was criticized at the time by some for ignoring the fact that people of all ages may become infected with HIV, the theme helped alleviate some of the stigma surrounding the disease and boost recognition of the problem as a family disease. All the World AIDS Day campaigns focus on a specific theme, chosen following consultations with UNAIDS, WHO and a large number of grassroots, national and international agencies involved in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. For the year 2016, the chosen theme is ‘Hands up for #HIVPrevention’. These themes are not limited to the day but is used throughout the year in international efforts to highlight the awareness about AIDS.

Every year on the 1st of December, different schools in Visakhapatnam walk and march on the beach road to spread the awareness about the HIV virus and educate people about the methods to prevent the infection on AIDS. Government schools and colleges take an active part in the awareness spreading and control against the HIV virus. Students from different age groups are seen carrying hoardings and sign boards with slogans and statements that show the wide spread of the deadly infection and urge people to take measures to prevent the infection. Even though science has made a remarkable growth in the field of medical science, there is no cure found for the AIDS yet and it becomes difficult to track the infection in the beginning, as there are no symptoms until the second stage of the infection. It includes weight loss, tuberculosis and several other indications. HIV is spread primarily by unprotected sex, contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needles, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. Some bodily fluids, such as saliva and tears, do not transmit HIV. Methods of prevention include safe sex, needle exchange programs, treating those who are infected, and male circumcision. Disease in a baby can often be prevented by giving both the mother and child antiretroviral medication. There is no cure or vaccine however, antiretroviral treatment can slow the course of the disease and may lead to a near-normal life expectancy. Treatment is recommended as soon as the diagnosis is made as without treatment, the average survival time after infection is 11 years.

Hence it is very important to take all measures possible to prevent the infection and make sure that we lead a healthy life. As a human being, it is our duty to spread the awareness about the infection and let people know about the harm caused by AIDS so that everybody is well aware and stops its prevention. This will gradually result in the lowered number of HIV patients and less and less people will suffer in the future generation.

Feature Image Credit: USaid

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