One of the world’s most significant health problems today is HIV and AIDS. The epidemic is worse in low and middle-income countries, however, it is a problem all over the world. In 2017, there were an estimated 20.9 million people in the United States who were receiving treatment for the HIV virus. Over the last decade or so, progress has been made in preventing AIDS. People who are diagnosed with the HIV virus can start taking anti-retroviral medications that can slow down the progress of the AIDS virus. There are plenty of facts and data about this disease that everyone should know to prevent it and treat it.
#1 The Virus Was Not Always Called AIDS
In the late 70’s and early 80’s, doctors didn’t know what the AIDS virus was or what caused it. It was originally thought that only homosexual men could contract the virus. Because of this, it was called Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID). It wasn’t until heterosexual people were coming down with the disease that they realized that everyone was susceptible to the virus.
#2 HIV Infects The Immune System
The disease causes the immune system to deteriorate. This can make it difficult for the body to fend off infections and diseases. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV and there are over 20 infections and cancers that can occur during this stage.
#3 It Can Be Transmitted in a Variety of Ways
There are a few ways that this disease can be transmitted.
- Unprotected sex with an infected partner (oral, anal, or vaginal)
- Sharing needles with an infected person
- Transfusion of contaminated blood
- Between mother and baby during pregnancy
- Use of contaminated surgical equipment
#4 HIV/AIDS Can Be Prevented
There are several ways that you can keep from contracting the HIV virus. These methods include:
- Have protected sex by always using a condom. This includes when having oral sex.
- IV drug users should only use clean, fresh needles and they should never share with others.
- When getting a tattoo or a piercing, make sure the artist is always using fresh needles.
- Ensure that any blood products you are given have been tested.
#5 Early Detection Can Save Your Life
It is important that people are tested for the HIV/AIDS virus regularly. If the virus is caught in the early stages, anti-retroviral drugs can be taken to prevent the HIV virus from progressing to AIDS. When the virus progresses this far, the prognosis is much worse. Expectant mothers should also be tested. If they do have HIV, they can take medication to keep from spreading it to their unborn child during delivery.
#6 There Is a Link Between HIV/AIDS and TB
According to a study performed by the World Health Organization (WHO), there is a link between HIV/AIDS and TB. In 2015, 10.4 million people developed TB. Of that number, 1.2 million or 11 percent of them were also HIV positive. That same year, 390,000 of the people who died of TB were also living with HIV. Of these deaths, 75 percent of them were people living in the African region.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is very serious. Knowledge and education are two of the best defenses that people have against contracting this virus. The more people understand about how the disease is transmitted and the more they know about how to avoid contracting it, the safer they will be. While there is currently no vaccination against the virus, scientists and researchers are working every day to develop one so that one day, HIV/AIDS will no longer exist.