World AIDS Day, established on 1 December every year since 1988. It is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. December is also? HIV/AIDS Awareness Month.

This year?s theme for World AIDS Day is ?Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV.? Let?s remind everyone about the importance of getting tested, improving education, raising awareness, and fighting prejudice to help those who are deeply affected.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that damages the immune system cells depresses the ability to fight infections and diseases.

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the name used to describe a number of potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses that happen when your immune system has been severely damaged by the HIV virus.

HIV is not passed on easily from one person to another. The virus does not spread through the air like cold and flu viruses. HIV lives in the blood and in some body fluids. To get HIV, 1 of these fluids from someone with HIV has to get into your blood.

The body fluids that contain enough HIV to infect someone are:

  • semen
  • vaginal fluids, including menstrual blood
  • breast milk
  • blood
  • lining inside the anus

Other body fluids, like saliva, sweat or urine, do not contain enough of the virus to infect another person.

The main ways the virus enters the bloodstream are:

  • by injecting into the bloodstream with needles or injecting equipment that’s been shared with other people
  • through the thin lining on or inside the anus, vagina, and genitals
  • through the thin lining of the mouth and eyes
  • through cuts and sores in the skin

Below are the three stages of HIV and some of the symptoms people may experience.

Stage 1: Acute HIV Infection

Within 2 to 4 weeks after infection with HIV, about two-thirds of people have a flu-like illness. This is the body?s natural response to HIV infection.

Stage 2: Clinical Latency

In this stage, the virus still multiplies at very low levels. People in this stage may not feel sick or have any symptoms.

Stage 3: AIDS

At this stage, the virus weakens the body?s immune system and? progress to AIDS.

Symptoms of AIDS include:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Recurring fever or profuse night sweats
  • Extreme and unexplained tiredness
  • Prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than a week
  • Oral cavity, anus, or genitalia sores
  • Pneumonia
  • Red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids
  • Memory loss, depression, and other neurological disorders

Here are the steps you should take to protect yourself from the virus:

  • Use latex condoms whenever you have any type of sexual intercourse.
  • Never share needles to take drugs.
  • Get tested and treated for other STDs. Other STDs can put you at higher risk for an HIV infection.
  • If you think you?ve been exposed to HIV, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible to see if you should take post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
  • Consider getting tested to know if you can pass HIV to others.

Be AIDS-aware!





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