IT’S been 30 long years that the world has been observing World Aids Day. The practice is meant to spread awareness about the epidemic that has killed almost one million people in 2017 alone.
Since the epidemic began, 77.3 million people have been infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and 35.4 million have died from HIV-Aids-related illnesses.
The first clinical evidence for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids) was found in 1981 and the chimpanzees in Central Africa has been identified as the first source of HIV in humans.
The United Nations estimates that there have been 36.9 million people living with HIV in 2017 alone and of those, 35.1 million were adults and 1.8 million were children. In 2017, 1.8 million are said to have been infected. Since the epidemic began, 77.3 million people have been infected with HIV and 35.4 million have died from HIV-Aids-related illnesses.
According to the World Health Organization, the number who died from HIV-Aids in 2017 worldwide is a 52 percent drop from 2004 and a 34 percent drop from 2010. According to UN data, the 1.8 million new diagnoses in 2017 was a 56 percent drop from the 2.8 million in 2000.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) based in the US says that gay and bisexual men are the most affected as 66 percent of new HIV diagnoses worldwide in 2017 came from male-to-male sexual contact. Twenty-four percent came from heterosexual contact; 70 percent of those diagnosed were women.
There is YET no cure or vaccine for AIDS but antiretroviral (ARV) drugs can control the virus and help prevent transmission. Antiretroviral therapy usually uses three drugs targeted to reduce a person's HIV level in the blood. According to WHO, the combination of drugs can “maximally suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of HIV disease. ART also prevents onward transmission of HIV.” Furthermore, if the viral load remains undetectable, “you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex,” the CDC says. The CDC says people can reach an undetectable viral load within six months. But missing a dose can increase the load and the risk of transmitting HIV.
Thirty years ago someone diagnosed with HIV or AIDS meant only one to two more years of life. With treatment, that has changed. “Today, someone diagnosed with HIV and treated before the disease is far advanced can live nearly as long as someone who does not have HIV,” the CDC says.
Health professionals still advise abstinence from sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and using condoms correctly every time you have sex as ways to reduce the risk of HIV exposure through sex. However, what really aggravates the situation is the refusal not to get tested if one is sexually active or engage in high risk sexual behaviors. Just like anything else, ignorance can kill.