People around the world today will be observing the 30th annual World AIDS Day. The event is aimed at spreading awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
To mark the 30th anniversary of the world's first global health day, here are a few, myths, facts and figures surrounding HIV and AIDS throughout the world.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
And while a person may be HIV positive, it does not necessarily mean he has AIDS. HIV is a virus that can lead to AIDS. AIDS is the last of the three stages of HIV infection.
According to the United Nations, 36.9 million people were living with HIV around the world in 2017. Of those, 35.1 million were adults and 1.8 million were children. The CDC estimates that 1.1 million people in the United States were living with HIV by the end of 2015. Fifteen percent didn't know they were infected.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, people in the first stage, acute HIV infection, experience a flu-like illness within 2 to 4 weeks after infection. It can last a few weeks. People in this stage have large amounts of the virus in their blood, and so are more likely to transmit the infection.
The second stage, clinical latency, marks a period where the virus is active but reproduces only at low levels, HIV.gov says. People in this stage might not experience symptoms, but can still transmit HIV to others. This stage can last decades, depending on treatment, but can also be shorter.
AIDS, the third stage, leads to the most severe illnesses because the virus damages the immune system over time, the CDC says. On average, people with AIDS who don't get treatment survive three years, according to the CDC.
Treatment at all three stages can prevent or slow symptoms and reduce the risk of transmission, the CDC says.
Here are a few pointers:
HIV can only be transmitted from one person to another person by infected body fluids (such as blood, semen, vaginal or anal secretions and breast milk). They can get into your bloodstream in these ways:
From mother to child during pregnancy child birth or breastfeeding
Injecting drugs with a needle that has infected blood in it
Infected blood donations or organ transplants .
However, one cannot get HIV from:
Someone who doesn’t have HIV
Touching someone who has HIV
HIV can’t survive outside of the body so you won’t get HIV from touching someone, hugging them or shaking their hand.
Sweat, tears, urine or faeces of someone who has HIV
fingering and hand-jobs all are safe from HIV. However, if you use sex toys make sure you use a new condom on them when switching between partners.
Insects: You cannot get HIV from insects. When an insect (such as a mosquito) bites you it sucks your blood – it does not inject the blood of the last person when mosquito bites.
Animals: HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which means that the infection can only be passed on between humans.
Air: HIV cannot survive in the air so coughing, sneezing or spitting cannot transmit HIV.
New or sterilised needles: New needles cannot transmit HIV because they haven’t been in the body of an infected person. If used needles are cleaned and sterilised properly they can’t transmit HIV either.
Water: HIV can’t survive in water, so you won’t get HIV from swimming pools, baths, shower areas, washing clothes or from drinking water.
Food and cooking utensils: HIV can’t be passed on through food or cooking utensils even if the person preparing your food is living with HIV.
Toilet seats, tables, door handles, cutlery, sharing towels: HIV doesn’t survive on surfaces, so you can’t get HIV from any of these.
Musical instruments: HIV can’t survive on musical instruments. Even if it is an instrument that you play using your mouth, it can’t give you HIV.
Used condoms: HIV can only survive for a really short amount of time outside of the body. Even if the condom had sperm from an HIV-positive person in it, the HIV would be dead.
Kissing: There is such a small amount of HIV in the saliva of a person living with HIV that the infection can’t be passed on from kissing.
Oral sex: The risk of HIV from oral sex is very small unless you or your partner have large open sores on the genital area or bleeding gums/sores in your mouth.
There is slightly increased risk if a woman being given oral sex is HIV positive and is menstruating. However, you can always use a dental dam to eliminate these risks.
Tattoos and piercings: There is only a risk if the needle used by the professional has been used in the body of an HIV-infected person and not sterilised afterwards. However, most practitioners are required to use new needles for each new client.