Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day 2008 - Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise - Lead - Empower - Deliver

Safe Sex is Hot Sex, 1990, ph: Steven Meisel

World AIDS Day, observed December 1 each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007, and an estimated 33 million people worldwide live with HIV as of 2007,making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Despite recent, improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 2 million lives in 2007, of which about 270,000 were children. The concept of a World AIDS Day originated at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention. Since then, it has been taken up by governments, international organizations and charities around the world.

The theme of today's World AIDS Day is "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise - Lead - Empower - Deliver"

What is HIV?
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. This is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is different from most other viruses because it attacks the immune system. The immune system gives our bodies the ability to fight infections. HIV finds and destroys a type of white blood cell (T cells or CD4 cells) that the immune system must have to fight disease.
For more information view Questions and Answers on HIV/AIDS Science (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. It can take years for a person infected with HIV, even without treatment, to reach this stage. Having AIDS means that the virus has weakened the immune system to the point at which the body has a difficult time fighting infections. When someone has one or more of these infections and a low number of T cells, he or she has AIDS.
For more information view Questions and Answers on HIV/AIDS Science (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Where did HIV come from?
Scientists identified a type of chimpanzee in West Africa as the source of HIV infection in humans. The virus most likely jumped to humans when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat and came into contact with their infected blood. Over several years, the virus slowly spread across Africa and later into other parts of the world.
For more information view Where did HIV come from? (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

How is HIV transmitted?
The most common ways that HIV is transmitted from one person to another are:
By having sex with an HIV-infected person
By sharing needles or injection equipment with a person who is infected with HIV
From HIV-infected women to their babies before or during birth, or through breast feeding
For more information visit How is HIV passed from one person to another? (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

How does HIV cause AIDS?
HIV destroys a certain kind of blood cell (CD4+ T cells) which is crucial to the normal function of the human immune system. In fact, loss of these cells in people with HIV is an extremely powerful predictor of the development of AIDS. Studies of thousands of people have revealed that most people infected with HIV carry the virus for years before enough damage is done to the immune system for AIDS to develop. However, sensitive tests have shown a strong connection between the amount of HIV in the blood and the decline in CD4+ T cells and the development of AIDS. Reducing the amount of virus in the body with anti-retroviral therapies can dramatically slow the destruction of a person’s immune system.
For more information view How HIV causes AIDS (National Institute for Allergy and Infections Diseases, NIH).

How do I know if I have HIV?
The only way to know if you are infected is to be tested for HIV infection. You cannot rely on symptoms to know whether or not you are infected. Many people who are infected with HIV do not have any symptoms at all for 10 years or more.
To learn more about HIV testing or to find a local HIV testing site near you, visit the National HIV Testing Resources (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Additional Frequent Questions Resources
Questions and Answers on HIV/AIDS (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)This resouce provides a collections of answers of frequently asked questions regarding HIV/AIDS covering topics including Blood Safety, CDC’s Clinical Studies of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV Prevention, Coinfection with Hepatitis C Virus, HIV/AIDS Science, Men on the Down Low, Prevention, Rumors, Myths, and Hoaxes, Testing, and Transmission.

Facing AIDS - World AIDS day 2008

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