December 1, 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of 'World AIDS Day'.
According to the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) as of 2017, 21.40 lakh people are living with AIDS in India.
This year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is focussing on HIV Testing, urging people to test before its too late.
The campaign 'Know Your Status' by WHO promotes the importance of testing and help people in accessing treatment and care.
What is HIV?
HIV(Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that targets and alters your immune system increasing the risk of other diseases. The virus creates a condition called as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome).
The body gradually loses its ability to fight diseases, making the patient weaker with very low or no immunity.
How does it spread?
HIV can be transmitted in body fluids including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, anal fluids and breast milk.
The little or no knowledge among people on how and why AIDS spreads is the main reason for the stigma faced by patients.
The more people are ignorant towards the disease the more they try to hide.
Many patients refuse to get treated in fear of being outcasted by society.
Here are six HIV Myths, that should be debunked:
1. HIV does not spread by touch: A HIV infected person cannot spread the virus by sweat, tears, urine or faeces. Hence hugging, shaking hands or interacting with an AIDS patient DOES NOT put you at risk of transmitting the virus.
2.Oral Sex: Oral sex does not spread HIV, in contrast to popular belief.
3. Mosquito bites do not spread HIV: If a mosquito bites an HIV infected person and then bites another human, the disease IS NOT transferred. The insect does not inject the previous person's blood into its new target.
4. Sharing is caring: Sharing utensils, water, toilet seat, door handles etc does not transmit HIV. The virus cannot thrive outside the body, hence it is impossible to acquire.
5. Even when under treatment, you can spread: When an HIV patient is undergoing proper treatment, the amount of virus in the blood circulation goes down and hence does not show up in blood tests. This may feel like you have gotten 'rid' of the disease, but the virus continues to thrive.
6. Your babies may be HIV free: If you are a mother with HIV, the transmission to your child (vertical transmission) can be avoided. If the virus fails to cross the placental barrier (with preliminary check-ups and medicines) and the delivery is planned for a C-section, most babies are born HIV-free.