World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died from AIDs.
To honour the day here are 5 facts about HIV:
- HIV can be transmitted in a number of ways like unprotected sexual intercourse, transfusions of contaminated blood, sharing of contaminated injecting equipment and transmission between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
- There are several ways to prevent HIV like: practicing safe sex by using a condom and getting tested and treated for STDs like HIV. If you have HIV, start antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible for your own health and the health of your sexual partner or infant.
- 36.7 million people are living with HIV worldwide. 1.8 million of these are children.
- HIV testing can help to ensure that people living with HIV get access to antiretroviral treatment. An estimated 40% of people with HIV remain undiagnosed and don’t know their infection status.
- HIV is the greatest risk factor for developing TB. In 2015, an estimated 1.2 million of the 10.4 million people who developed TB worldwide were HIV positive. In the same year approximately 390 000 deaths from tuberculosis occurred among people living with HIV.
Dr Richard Malkin, MD of Workforce Healthcare says that he cannot emphasise enough how serious HIV is in South Africa. “500 000 people die every year from AIDs and most of these people don’t know their status.”
This large amount of deaths can be avoided by accessing free treatment at state clinics. Once on treatment people can lead normal healthy lives.
“As a medical practitioner, looking after thousands of people in the workplaces around South Africa, where we’ve been dealing with HIV for over three decades, my conscience does not allow me to accept that over 500 000 people are dying,” Malkin says. “We need to re-look at how HIV is being dealt with in our country as I believe that this is not acceptable.”
Source: World Health Organisation