World AIDS Day – Removing fear, stigma and ignorance

A person who is HIV positive does not have to be doomed or unable to live a normal life. Antiretroviral treatment, which can lengthen an HIV patient’s remission time, is a source of hope.

December 1 is celebrated all over the world as ‘World AIDS Day’. The world today has come a long way since the first discovery of the virus in the eighties. The disease has also broken many myths during its process of evolution. When the disease first hit the world scene, it was considered a disease of the West and the people in the Orient thought they were morally and culturally more superior than the promiscuous people of the West and therefore, they were at a lesser risk. However, this myth was broken and the East bore the brunt of the AIDS disease.

AIDS spread like wildfire in India

The disease caused much more damage in India since it did not remain within the domain of homosexuals and drug addicts but spread among the heterosexual persons also. The disease spread like wildfire and cultural taboos made detection and separation of the afflicted even more different.

Truck drivers who crisscrossed the country ensured the spread of AIDS like wildfire. The Health authorities also started distributing condoms from petrol pumps and other highway retail outlets also.

Many notable persons died due to AIDS

The disease also took its toll on many notable personalities in the West. However, not much is known about notable personalities who succumbed to the AIDS virus in India. Maybe cultural and social taboos of the bygone era ensured that it remained shrouded in mystery.

AIDS virus isn’t easy to kill but antiretroviral treatment is the hope

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that AIDS is not an easy virus to kill. Still today, a HIV +ve patient does not mean a person is doomed or cannot lead a normal life. Hope is available in the form of antiretroviral treatment which can prolong the remission period of the HIV patient.

WHO has, in its 2015 guidelines, made it clear that regardless of the immune status of the HIV +ve patient, antiretroviral treatment must be started as early as possible for better prognosis.

December 1 to be AIDS Awareness Day

December 1 has been declared AIDS awareness day, a day to remove fear, ignorance and stigma associated with the disease. 

It is ironical that the world is today dealing with a far worse COVID-19 virus which can be spread by contact. Imagine AIDS virus which is spread only by sexual contact or transfer of body fluids. The disease could have been stamped out quite easily as compared to COVID-19 which the world is still dealing with.

Since its start in 1988, AIDS has affected 79.3 million people, as per UNAIDS and it has claimed 36.3 million lives, according to WHO. Only if the world had woken up to its dangers and tried to prevent it. It would have required a fraction of the efforts which the world is putting in to control COVID-19.