WORLD AIDS DAY – 1 December 2019

1 December 2019 was WORLD AIDS DAY

This year, World AIDS Day is themed “Communities make the difference”

Communities contribute to the AIDS response in many different ways. Their leadership and advocacy ensure that the response remains relevant and grounded, keeping people at the centre and leaving no one behind. Communities include peer educators, networks of people living with or affected by HIV, such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers, women and young people, councilors, community health workers, door-to-door service providers, civil society organizations and grass-roots activists.

Some stark statistics

  • Globally, there are an estimated 36.7 million people living with HIV.
  • More than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
  • The total number of people living with HIV is estimated at approximately 7,97 million in 2019.

 Frequent assumptions and questions

It’s important to remember that HIV and AIDS are not the same thing. When someone is described as living with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), they have the HIV virus in their body. A person is considered to have developed AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) when the immune system is so weak it can no longer fight off a range of infections with which it would normally cope.

True or false: You can get HIV from a mosquito bite?
Answer: False

It is physically impossible for a mosquito (or any other insect which bites mammals) to transmit HIV. Firstly, the HIV virus can’t survive in or on an insect. Secondly, these insects only suck blood up, they do not inject blood back in.

HIV can be transmitted by two of the following routes.

a) Sharing needles or syringes / YES

b) Kissing someone / NO

c) Sex without a condom with someone who has HIV but has an undetectable viral load / NO

d) Spitting / NO

True or false: Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, can prevent HIV transmission even when a condom isn’t used.

Answer: True.

If used correctly, PrEP is effective against preventing HIV. However, it does not prevent against other STIs or pregnancy. More info: A person can take Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, to prevent themselves from acquiring HIV. PrEP is a medication which is highly effective at preventing HIV transmission, when used as directed.

What are the benefits of HIV treatment?

a) It prevents sickness and gives you a normal life expectancy

b) It suppresses the virus so that you can’t pass it on

c) Both of the above

Answer: (c) Both of the above

More info: HIV treatment is extremely effective and an HIV positive person on treatment can now lead a full and active life and has a normal life expectancy. HIV treatment also has preventive benefits. It reduces the level of HIV in the body to what is clinically referred to as an ‘undetectable viral load’ (this normally takes around six months from starting treatment). If someone’s viral load is undetectable, that means that they cannot pass on HIV, even when having sex without condoms.

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