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World AIDS Day World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day: 5 things to know about its symptoms, transmission and treatment

Nov 30, 2018

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a major health issue as approximately 36.9 million people live with HIV (according to WHO data from 2017). December 1 is marked as World AIDS Day to raise awareness about the pandemic. The theme for World AIDS Day this year is ‘Know your status’ which tells people to check their HIV status.

According to a UNAIDS report, there is still a lot that remains to be done to reach out to people who are living with HIV. World AIDS Day encourages people to show support for people who are living with the health condition

Here are 5 things you need to know about HIV/AIDS:

* HIV refers to the virus that causes an HIV infection. It targets the person’s immune system and can weaken their defence systems, making them vulnerable to infections and some forms of cancer.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) refers to the most advanced stage of HIV infection. It causes an extremely low CD4 cell count. If untreated, HIV can destroy your immune system and lead to AIDS.

* HIV can be transmitted through contact with blood, semen, rectal fluid, vaginal fluid, or breast milk of a person infected with HIV. However, kissing, hugging, shaking hands, or sharing personal objects cannot spread the virus.

* The early symptoms of HIV include fever, a sore throat, a skin rash, nausea, body ache, and headache. The infection will go on to weaken your immune system and you can suffer from swollen lymph nodes, diarrhoea and unaccounted for weight loss.

* If you don’t undergo treatment, people infected with HIV can develop illnesses such as tuberculosis, meningitis, bacterial infections and cancers such as lymphoma.

* While there is no cure for HIV, there are treatments to control the virus and help patients enjoy a healthy and productive lives. The treatments include antiretroviral therapy (ART) and HIV medicines to reduce risk of transmission.

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