Tuesday, December 11, 2018

World AIDS Day 2018: We must fight this Together

(Tuesday, 4th day of December 2018)

 

On December 1st each year, the whole world celebrates World AIDS Day. This year’s theme is, “Know Your Status.” This day is an opportunity to spread awareness regarding HIV/AIDS/ Also, this day aims support those who are currently living with HIV, and to remember those who died from and AIDS- related illness. According to UNAIDS, the World AIDS day was the first ever-global health day, which started in 1988.

Statistics in the Philippines

According to Dr. Joselito Feliciano, director of the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC), usually teenagers and young adults aged 15 to 24 years old suffers HIV/AIDS based on their studies. PNAC estimates about 265,900 cases of Filipinos are likely to be suffering from HIV/AIDS in the next decade if the government does not address the current growing number of statistics in the Philippines. He added that in 2018, as many as 32 people were diagnosed with HIV-AIDS every day. DOH earlier said the Philippines had one of the ‘fastest growing’ HIV epidemics in the world with 57,134 cases recorded from January 1984 to July 2018.

How is HIV Transmitted?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. According to New Zealand AIDS Foundation, HIV belongs to a group of viruses called Retroviruses, which works by invading the genetic material of cells within your body. Normally, the body’s immune system would fight off such a virus, but HIV stops this from happening by infecting CD4, or T-cells, which are the cells that fight off infection. The virus can live in the body for years without causing obvious damage, though it will continue replicating over this tie.

HIV can be transmitted through unprotected sex (be it vaginal or anal), sharing of syringes, needles or other sharp instruments, HIV-positive pregnant woman to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. HIV is not transmitted through shaking hands, hugging, using the same toilet, drinking from the same glass, and coughing.

According to studies, many people with HIV continue to look and feel well throughout their lifetime. They may not even be aware that they are living with the virus. However, many HIV positive people do eventually develop different infections and cancers that the body would otherwise normally be able to fight. This can lead to an HIV positive person being diagnosed with AIDS. Thus, HIV is a silent killer.

How to avoid HIV?

One must use condoms when having vaginal or anal sex. One must use clean needles & syringes during blood transfusion, be on PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and getting on PEP (Post- Exposure Prophylaxis) within 72 hours of exposure to HIV.

The Department of Health (DOH) is also giving free HIV testing. In addition, DOH is giving free antiretroviral therapy (ART) to those people who wished to seek treatment. The government also offers free condoms not just as contraceptives, but also as a protection against contracting HIV and STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

Spreading of awareness regarding HIV/AIDS must also be done. Proper dissemination and education must be done to the public. In addition, we must continue to understand and not to judge people who are living with HIV. We must always continue to have an open mind and dialogue to everyone.

 

– –  Louise Lourfe P. Malazarte / CIO

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