World AIDS Day, designated on 1 December every year since 1988, is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.
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 Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland.
Official data reveals that the number of people facing this deadly disease (HIV) in Jammu and Kashmir as on Aug 2018 is 4,609. “In Government Medical College Jammu (GMC), the number of infected people alive on ART is 2,246, while in SKIMS Srinagar 256 patients are alive on ART,” the data says.
When people first hear about their HIV status, they may feel shock, anger and numbness and they usually deny that they are affected by the disease. Feelings of guilt and shame are also present. People with HIV are usually stigmatised and face a lot of other problems, like being looked down upon, shunned by society as well as by family and friends. They receive little psychological and social support and are usually left to face the disease by themselves. The positive diagnosis also has a negative effect on the marital relationship wherein the spouse usually leaves the relationship. The stigma attached with HIV arises from fear and lack of information about how HIV spreads and whether or not it can be controlled. This stigma leads to people facing a lot of mental health problems like depression as well as self-induced isolation, leading to disrupted social relationships. Thus people may not engage in any activities with people from their families, friends and society. People also have lowered self-esteem and view themselves in a negative light. There may be denial and people may also further engage in disruptive behaviours like drinking and taking drugs. This affects the quality of life and patients may not adhere to medication, thereby letting the disease progress. Physical abuse and denial of treatment at hospitals are other issues faced by patients.
The number of new HIV infections in Jammu and Kashmir in 2017 was 213, the lowest in recent years and seven times lower than the Indian national average for the year, a government reports says, but the rate of decline is still worrying.
HIV infection is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. You can get HIV from contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids. Most people get the virus by having unprotected sex with someone who has HIV. Another common way of getting it is by sharing drug needles with someone who is infected with HIV.
You can use strategies such as abstinence (not having sex), never sharing needles, and using condoms the right way every time you have sex. You may also be able to take advantage of HIV prevention medicines such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
How HIV spreads
By having sex, by sharing needles, and by blood transfusion. You may become infected if you have sex with an infected partner whose blood or semen secretions enter your body. Sharing contaminated IV drug paraphernalia (needles and syringes) puts you at high risk of HIV and other infectious diseases, such as hepatitis. In some cases, the virus may be transmitted through blood transfusions. American hospitals and blood banks now screen the blood supply for HIV antibodies, so this risk is very small.
There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. However, there are medications called highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, which slow the progression of HIV infection. As a result, there are now many people living with HIV/AIDS. The infections and cancers that AIDS causes can often be treated.
HIV IS NOT TRANSMITTED BY CASUAL CONTACT
Repeated, carefully designed and monitored scientific studies prove that there is no risk of transmitting HIV by sharing the same space, classroom, recreational facilities, swimming pool, bathroom, clothing with someone who has HIV infection. Ordinary objects and surfaces used by people with HIV infection present no danger and need not be feared. HIV is not transmitted by coughing or sneezing. Neither animals nor insects can transmit HIV.
There is no chance of transmitting HIV through sexual activities that do not involve direct contact of semen, pre- ejaculatory fluid, vaginal secretions or blood.
The writer is a student of BSc Nursing at Pacific Institute of Medical Sciences, Udaipur. [email protected]