How Much Do You Really Know About AIDS?

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) weakens the cells of the immune system, which results in a breakdown of the body’s ability fight off various infections and diseases. The most advanced stage of the HIV virus is referred to as the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and is defined by the manifestation of any of over 20 infections or associated cancers.

World’s Leading Fatal Infectious Illness

HIV is the leading infectious killer worldwide; as of the end of 2013, an estimated 39 million people have died from AIDS-related causes. Currently, there are about 35 million people worldwide who are living with HIV. An estimated 3.2 million of these people are children. Studies indicate around 2.1 million people were newly infected with the virus within the year 2013.

Life Expectancy for People with HIV

The life expectancy for individuals who are HIV positive is now not that far from people who are HIV negative. In 2011, a British study established that the typical 20 year old diagnosed with the virus can expect to live into his or her mid-60s. Furthermore, if promptly treated with the most effective medications available, the study showed that those diagnosed before the immune system is invaded can expect to live into their mid-70s.

There are some specific Ways to Prevent Contracting HIV

While there is no vaccine or cure for HIV, there are ways to help prevent contacting the disease. Avoid injecting drugs, but if you have to for medical reasons, use only new and disposable needles and syringes. Confirm that all blood or blood products that you may need are tested for HIV. Always practice safe sexual behaviors including the use of condoms. HIV is not passed on through spitting, biting or sharing eating utensils.

Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV is nearly completely avoidable

There is a 15 to 45 percent chance that an HIV positive pregnant woman will pass the virus on to her baby. On the other hand, expectant mothers that take a course of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to help prevent the risk of HIV transmission can reduce the chance to less than five percent. Unlike other countries, essentially all expectant women living with HIV in high-income countries have access to ARVs, which is why mother-to-child transmission has just about been eliminated in these nations.

December 1st is World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day has been observed every year on December 1st since 1988 and is dedicated to AIDS awareness. It’s an opportunity for people from all around the world to join together in the fight against HIV, including individuals, private organizations, health representatives and government officials. The goal is to lessen some of the stigma surrounding the virus and to educate people on the prevention and treatment of AIDS.