Many a battle has emerged victorious due to the power of inventive strategy and effective leadership. This battle against a legendary immunodeficiency disease, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
has increased in intensity in the past few years. This year focuses on the role of effective leadership and strategy in controlling the spread of the disease.
AIDS is not only a debilitating disease, but it is also associated with discrimination and stigma from loved ones and society.
It is disheartening to note that despite years of awareness programmes about AIDS, there are about one in three people who go undiagnosed. From the statistics of UNAIDS, an estimated 33.3 million people are living with HIV. Among these 2.5 million are children.
More than half of infected people are in the prime of their youth. Statistics also point out that they do not survive beyond 10 years of diagnosis.
In India there are about 2.5 million HIV+ individuals of which 1.7 lakh are in the state of TamilNadu.
Mortality due to AIDS stands at a staggering 2.1 million people worldwide. Among the dead, 330,000 are children.
According to a voluntary service group, women and girls in the third world are dispropotionately victimized by HIV/AIDS because they face consistent discrimination
Mode of Transmission
To understand this dreaded disease, it is imperative to understand the route the virus takes. Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is transmitted through-
- Infected blood, breast milk
- Infected vaginal fluid,
- Infected semen
Risks of HIV increases manifold during unprotected sex
with an infected partner. Sharing syringes, needles
or other injecting devices is a hotbed for the spread of HIV.
HIV can also be transmitted from an HIV infected mother
to her fetus during pregnancy or childbirth or even while breast-feeding. HIV can also be transmitted through mouth ulcers, and other dental problems
especially with the gums.
It must be noted that kissing or mere physical contact with HIV infected people cannot transmit infection. Sneezing or coughing cannot spread HIV. Sharing vessels and using the same toilets cannot spread HIV.
Knowing your status
Testing for HIV is performed at different intervals of 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months following exposure, to verify the HIV infection. The common test employed to detect antibodies are called the Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
, which is the first test to be performed.
Another test, the Western Blot
, is performed after the ELISA Test to confirm the results. This test is considered to be more specific in comparison to ELISA .
Antiretroviral HIV drugs have been the mainstay of treatment programs.
Employing this therapy, on infected pregnant women, helped cut the rate of transmission of the infection to the fetus. Doctors also find it safe to carry out a Cesarian section, for an infected mother, in place of a normal delivery to prevent the spread of infection during childbirth. Further, infected mothers are forbidden from breastfeeding their babies. This helped in significantly cutting down the rate of transmission of the disease to the child.
Under the cover of a Condom
The price of unprotected sex with an infected partner is far too costly. One can pay with one's life.
Due to unprotected random sex, the rate of infection is very high among homosexual and bisexual men. It is important to use a condom
while engaging in any form of penetrative sex.
Women can now take adequate protection during sex by using the female condom
. The condom is a polyurethane sheath lining the vagina that protects the woman against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. I. This female condom comes in different brands such as Femy, Myfemy, Dominique, protectiv' and Care and is quite user-friendly.
A small step of protection by using the condom or insisting on its use can go a long way in containing the spread of the disease. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry.
The theme of this year forms the basis of the Vision 2010 objectives.
The AIDS campaign-Vision 2010, focuses on Universal Access in the areas of AIDS Prevention, Management and Care. The goal of this campaign is to ensure :
- AIDS prevention, management and support for everyone
- Easy access to condoms.
- Safe bloods supply and drugs in a timely manner to stop the transmission of infection from pregnant women to their children.
- Availability of antiretroviral drugs
- Adequate care and support for all AIDS patients
Despite the campaign against AIDS on in full swing in the previous years, this year will explore the effectiveness of sound leadership
in taking the objectives of the vision 2010 forward. People at the helm of affairs, will join in the worldwide campaign to increase awareness of the disease, to provide a well-honed support system to the sufferers, and also to enable life-saving anti-retroviral therapy in deficient areas. Most importantly the focus will be on prevention of the disease by educating the public.
Spread The Word
The crux of all World AIDS Day initiatives is to spread the awareness of the disease underlining the fact that AIDS CAN BE PREVENTED
Each one of us can take a positive step to further the goals of Vision 2010. Sex education programmes in schools and colleges is an absolute must to educate young minds of the pitfalls of unprotected sex.
Local awareness programmes can also help spread the word about AIDS prevention. The onus of eliminating HIV/ AIDS rests on each one of us and even small steps taken in this direction will be a giant leap for the vision 2010 objectives- Wear a Red Ribbon and spread the message of 'Stop AIDS and Keep the Promise'.