Today is 1st December, World AIDS Day. It is important because it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight discrimination and improve education.
World AIDS Day was first conceived in August 1987 by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Program on AIDS at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.
AIDS is the most studied disease in history and today we have brought 10 random interesting facts about this global pandemic:
1) Sub-Saharan Africa has the most serious HIV and AIDS epidemic in the world.
Geographically, the worst AIDS epidemic is in sub-Sahara Africa, with approximately 65% of all cases located there. Almost 90% of children with HIV live in sub-Sahara Africa.
2) “Hunter Theory” or “Bush Meat Theory.”
The most simple and plausible theory as to how HIV was transmitted from monkeys to humans is called the “Hunter Theory,” or “Bush Meat Theory.” In this scenario, the virus was transmitted in the 1930s from an ape or monkey to a human in Africa when a hunter or bush meat handler was bitten or cut while hunting or butchering an animal. HIV was then transmitted among humans for decades in Africa, mostly via unprotected heterosexual vaginal sex.
3) There are 2 strains of HIV.
There are two strains of HIV; HIV-1 (which has been traced back to chimpanzees), and HIV-2 (which came from a small African monkey). Within those stains, there are also several sub-strains. By far, the most deadly version is HIV-1.
4) Timothy Ray Brown, also known as “The Berlin Patient” is the only man cured of HIV.
Mr Timothy Ray Brown, 49, nicknamed “The Berlin Patient”, underwent a bone marrow transplant in 2007, using bone marrow from someone with a natural genetic mutation known to be resistant to HIV. His HIV has not returned since.
5) While HIV has been found in saliva, sharing cups or eating utensils has never been shown to spread HIV/AIDS.
A person cannot get HIV from hugging or touching someone with HIV/AIDS; using public bathrooms or swimming pools; sharing cups, utensils, or telephones with someone who has HIV/AIDS; or by bug bites. While those getting a tattoo, piercing, or scarifications are hypothetically at risk of getting HIV/ADIS, no confirmed cases have been recorded.
6) Elimination of mother-to-child-transmission is becoming a reality.
Access to preventive interventions remains limited in many low- and middle-income countries. But progress has been made in some areas such as prevention of mother-to-child transmission and keeping mothers alive. In 2014, a little over 7 out of 10 pregnant women living with HIV – 10,70,000 women – received antiretrovirals worldwide. In 2015, Cuba was the first country declared by WHO as having eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
7) A person can have HIV for years before feeling ill.
About a month after contracting HIV, some people will develop flu-like symptoms. These symptoms often go away often within a week or month. After this initial response, a person can have HIV for years before feeling ill.
8) Combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) prevents the HIV virus from multiplying in the body.
If the reproduction of the HIV virus stops, then the body’s immune cells are able to live longer and provide the body with protection from infections. If the HIV positive partner in a couple is on ART, the likelihood of sexual transmission to the HIV-negative partner decreases dramatically by 96%.
HIV/AIDS is so much more frightening than other diseases due to its ability to bypass the immune system and then destroy it. When the virus enters the system, it is cloaked in carbohydrate sugar molecules that cling to its surface, “fooling” our bodies into thinking the virus is a nutrient.
10) Patient Zero
French Canadian flight attendant Gaetan Dugas pays his first known visit to New York bathhouses. He would later be deemed “Patient Zero” because he was connected to many early cases of AIDS in the United States.
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