- World AIDS Day is celebrated every year on December 1
- Antiretroviral therapies can be effective for keeping HIV in control
- A person can have HIV without any symptoms for years: Expert
New Delhi: Every year December 1 is observed as World AIDS Day. While there is, unfortunately, no cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS yet, people infected with HIV can live long and dynamic lives with the timely detection and antiretroviral treatment (ART). As per experts, antiretroviral therapies can be extremely effective for keeping HIV in control and preventing it from replicating and harming the immune system for a long time. HIV and AIDS are still very much top public health concerns and therefore there are several myths associated with the disease that may be far from fact. Here are some of these myths that need to be busted.
Myth: HIV/AIDS is no longer a crisis.
Fact: Unfortunately, this is not true. HIV or AIDS may not be grabbing headlines but the crisis is far from over. As per the latest HIV estimates report (2019) of the Government, India HAS around 23.49 lakh people living with HIV/AIDS in 2019.
However, on the bright side, the report suggests that the HIV epidemic has SHOWN an overall decreasing trend in the country, with estimated annual new HIV infections declining by 37 per cent between 2010 and 2019.
Myth: You can tell if someone has HIV/AIDS by looking at them.
Fact: You can have HIV without any symptoms for years, according to Centre For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
If an individual contracts the HIV, they may be asymptomatic for years. The infected individual may display symptoms that are similar to any other type of infection, such as fever and fatigue but these symptoms generally only last a few days.
According to WHO, with the early introduction of antiretroviral medications, HIV can be effectively managed.
A person with HIV who receives the treatment is relatively healthy and is not very different than individuals with chronic health conditions. The symptoms that are stereotyped by people who have HIV are actually the symptoms caused by complications by AIDS, says NACO.
Myth: HIV can spread through infected water or food.
Fact: According to WHO, HIV cannot survive for long outside the human body, and therefore, it cannot survive in water either.
It is not possible to contract the virus from swimming, drinking, or other activities involving water.
The virus cannot survive exposure to the air or heat from cooking. Also, if a person ate food with traces of the virus on it, their stomach acid would kill it, it adds.
Myth: One can get HIV by being around HIV-positive patients.
Fact: WHO says that HIV isn’t spread through touch, tears, saliva, sweat, or urine.
Other ways you won’t catch the virus are breathing the same air (airborne), from touching surfaces, hugging, kissing, or shaking hands, sharing utensils. You can get infected from infected blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk.
Myth: If one is getting the treatment, they can’t spread the virus.
Fact: The effect of the HIV treatment is that it lowers the amount of virus present in your blood, explains NACO and says that this leads to undetectable viral load.
Several studies prove that if your viral load is undetectable, you cannot transmit the virus. But if you miss doses of your medicines or stop using them, you can transmit the virus to others. So, it is necessary to take them exactly as and when prescribed. Infected individuals must practice safe sex so that they don’t transmit the virus to others. Even if both the sexual partners have HIV, wearing condoms can protect them from other, possibly drug-resistant, strains, it adds.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.