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The Impact and Consequences of AIDS/HIV in India
Impact of AIDS/HIV in India
“Each time AIDS was conquered, there was stigma, shame, distrust, discrimination and neglect. Every time AIDS is defeated it is because of mutual trust, openness, dialogue between individuals and communities, family support, human solidarity and human perseverance. finding new ways and solutions.” – Michel Sidibé, Executive Director, UNAIDS
What are AIDS and HIV?
AIDS is caused by a virus called HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Infections alter the immune system, making people more susceptible to illness and disease. This vulnerability worsens as the syndrome progresses, sometimes with fatal consequences.
HIV is a virus: HIV is a virus that attacks T-cells (CD-4) in the immune system.
AIDS is a medical disease: AIDS is a disease, which occurs in the advanced stages of HIV infection.
HIV infection can cause AIDS but it is possible to have HIV without having AIDS. However, without treatment, HIV can progress and, eventually, become AIDS in most cases. Once an AIDS diagnosis is made, it will always be part of a patient’s medical history.
What causes HIV and AIDS?
A retrovirus that infects vital organs and cells of the human immune system, HIV develops when there is no antiretroviral therapy (ART) – a drug treatment that slows down, and can prevent the growth of new HIV virus.
The rate at which the virus develops in different people varies greatly, depending on many factors including:
- The body’s ability to protect itself from HIV
- Access to treatment
- Other diseases that the patient may have
- The person’s genetic makeup
- Resistance to some types of HIV
- Another reason
How is HIV transmitted?
Sexually Transmitted: Contact with infected sexual fluids (rectal, genital, or oral) during unprotected sex with someone who has HIV
Perinatal transmission: A mother can transmit the disease to her child during childbirth, pregnancy and breastfeeding
Blood transfusions: Transmission of HIV through blood transfusions is very low in developed countries, due to screening and good precautions. This is not often the case in developing countries
The first symptoms of HIV
Many people with HIV have no symptoms for months or even years after being infected. Others may develop flu-like symptoms, usually two to six weeks after contracting the virus. Early symptoms of HIV may include fever, chills, joint pain, muscle aches, sore throat, sweating (especially at night), enlarged glands, red rash, fatigue , general weakness and weight loss.
Myths and facts about HIV and AIDS
There are many misconceptions about HIV and AIDS that are not based on scientific and medical facts. DO NOT transfer through:
- shake hands
- a casual kiss
- touching the skin regularly
- use the same toilet
- hand out towels
- sharing a basin
- feeding by word of mouth or by other forms of “casual contact”
Is there a cure for AIDS and HIV?
Currently, there is no vaccine or cure for HIV, but some treatments have been developed that are more effective and more tolerable – improving the patient’s overall health and quality of life. – by taking one pill a day.
Certain treatments can slow the progression of the disease, allowing most people with the disease to live long, healthy lives. It is important to start antiretroviral HIV treatment early. According to the guidelines of the World Health Organization, published in June 2013, early treatment improves the quality of life, extends life expectancy and reduces the risk of infection.
How to prevent HIV?
To prevent HIV transmission, doctors recommend the following measures:
Avoid the dangers of unprotected sex: Having sex without a condom can put a person at risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Drug abuse and needle sharing: Intravenous drug use is a major cause of HIV transmission, especially in developed countries. Sharing needles can expose users to HIV and other viruses, such as hepatitis C.
Exposure to body fluids: HIV transmission can be prevented by taking precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to contaminated blood. Health workers should use barriers (wraps, masks, protective eyewear, shields and clothing).
Pregnancy: Some treatments can harm an unborn baby. To protect the baby’s health, delivery by caesarean section may be necessary. HIV positive mothers should not breastfeed.
The importance of education: It is an important factor in reducing the risk behaviors that lead to HIV/AIDS.
Social stigma associated with AIDS
The fear surrounding the HIV epidemic in the 1980s continues to this day. At that time, because not much was known about HIV and how it was transmitted, people were afraid of the disease because of the fear of contracting it.
This fear, to this day, means that many people still believe that HIV and AIDS:
- It still ends in death
- The association of behavioral syndromes that are still not appreciated by many – such as homosexuality, drug use, sex or promiscuity
- Diseases are transmitted through sex, which is a taboo subject in some cultures
- Illness is due to personal negligence or moral error that deserves punishment.
- Misinformation about how the virus is transmitted, leading to irrational behavior and misconceptions about the risks
What is the level of AIDS awareness in India?
According to a comprehensive study by the UNDP post 2005, “HIV and AIDS is a major challenge for both developed and developing countries. India, with an estimated 5.206 million people living with HIV in 2005, accounts for nearly 69 percent of HIV infections in South and Southeast Asia. This is despite the country having a low overall HIV prevalence of 0.91 percent.”
“India has six high prevalence states: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Manipur and Nagaland. Of these Andhra Pradesh recorded a prevalence of two percent among antenatal clinic attendees and 22.8 percent -hundreds of STD clinic attendees in 2005. HIV Epidemiology in general focuses on the study of the impact of AIDS/HIV on individuals and household.“, emphasized the analysis.
In conclusion, we cite a 2012 World Bank Group study, “The Government of India estimates that approximately 2.40 million Indians are living with HIV (1.93-3.04 million) with an adult prevalence of 0.31%. (2009). Children (<15 years) account for 3.5% of all infections, while 83% are in the 15-49 age group. Of all HIV infections, 39% (930,000) are women. The very different epidemics in India are concentrated in a few states - in the industrialized south and west, and in the north-east. The four most populous states of South India (Andhra Pradesh - 500,000, Maharashtra - 420,000, Karnataka - 250,000, Tamil Nadu - 150,000) account for 55% of all HIV infections in the country. West Bengal, Gujarat, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are estimated to have more than 100,000 PLHA each and together account for 22% of HIV infections in India.“
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