AIDS stands for "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome" or "acquired immunodeficiency syndrome" and denotes a condition, which results from the damage done by HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) to the immune system. The condition was first identified in 1981 and the name "AIDS" was first introduced on July 27, 1982.
It has been estimated that around 33 million people around the world have been infected with HIV and that around two million people die from AIDS related conditions each year. On October 27, 1988, the UN General Assembly officially recognized that the World Health Organization declared December 1, 1988, to be World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day has also been observed on this date each year since then.
December 1 is observed as World AIDS Day:
On World AIDS Day, many community, national and international leaders issue proclamations on supporting and treating people living with HIV and AIDS and stimulating research into the treatment of these conditions. The of World AIDS Day was 'Universal Access and Human Rights'.
A simple red ribbon is one of the most widely recognized symbols of HIV and AIDS and the people who live with these conditions. The symbol was presented by the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus in 1991. The red ribbon was originally intended to be worn as a badge, but is now used in a wide variety of ways.
The symbol of the World AIDS Campaign consists of a sketched image of a red ribbon and the words "world aids campaign". The words "world" and "campaign" are in black and the word "aids" is in red. The ends of the ribbon merge into splashes of green, blue, purple and orange. The splashes of color can be interpreted in a variety of ways, but are often taken to indicate the diversity of people living with HIV and AIDS.
AIDS is caused by HIV.HIV is a virus that gradually attacks immune system cells. As HIV progressively damages these cells, the body becomes more vulnerable to infections, which it will have difficulty in fighting off. It is at the point of very advanced HIV infection that a person is said to have AIDS. It can be years before HIV has damaged the immune system enough for AIDS to develop.
Important facts about the spread of AIDS include:
AIDS is the sixth leading cause of death among people ages 25-44.
The World Health Organization estimates that more than 25 million people worldwide have died from this infection since the start of the epidemic.
In 2008, there were approximately 33.4 million people around the world living with HIV/AIDS, including 2.1 million children under age 15.
AIDS begins with HIV infection. People infected with HIV may have no symptoms for 10 years or longer, but they can still transmit the infection to others during this symptom-free period. If the infection is not detected and treated, the immune system gradually weakens and AIDS develops.
Almost all people infected with HIV, if not treated, will develop AIDS. There is a small group of patients who develop AIDS very slowly, or never at all. These patients are called non progressors, and many seem to have a genetic difference that prevents the virus from damaging their immune system.
The symptoms of AIDS are primarily the result of infections that do not normally develop in individuals with healthy immune systems. These are called opportunistic infections.
People with AIDS have had their immune system damaged by HIV and are very susceptible to these opportunistic infections.
Common symptoms are:
Sweats (particularly at night)
Swollen lymph glands
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes AIDS. The virus attacks the immune system and leaves the body vulnerable to a variety of life-threatening infections and cancers.
Common bacteria, yeast, parasites, and viruses that ordinarily do not cause serious disease in people with healthy immune systems can cause fatal illnesses in people with AIDS.
HIV has been found in:
Nervous system tissue and spinal fluid
Blood, semen (including pre-seminal fluid, which is the liquid that comes out before ejaculation)
However, only blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk generally transmits infection to others.
The virus can be spread (transmitted):
Through sexual contact - including oral, vaginal, and anal sex
Through blood - via blood transfusions.
From mother to child - a pregnant woman can transmit the virus to her fetus through their shared blood circulation, or a nursing mother can transmit it to her baby in her breast milk.
Other methods of spreading the virus are rare and include
Accidental needle injury.
Artificial insemination with infected donated semen.
Organ transplantation with infected organs.
HIV infection is NOT spread by:
Casual contact such as hugging
Participation in sports
Touching items previously touched by a person infected with the virus
AIDS and blood or organ donation:
AIDS is NOT transmitted to a person who DONATES blood or organs.
HIV can be transmitted to a person RECEIVING blood or organs from an infected donor.
To reduce this risk, blood banks and organ donor programs screen donors, blood, and tissues thoroughly.
People at highest risk for getting HIV:
Injection drug users who share needles
Infants born to mothers with HIV who didn't receive HIV therapy during pregnancy
People engaging in unprotected sex, especially with people who have other high-risk behaviors.
Safe sex to reduce the chance of acquiring or spreading HIV, and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Do not use illicit drugs and do not share needles or syringes.
Contact with blood
Avoid contact with another person's blood. Protective clothing, masks, and goggles may be appropriate when caring for people who are injured.
Anyone who tests positive for HIV can pass the disease to others and should not donate blood, plasma, body organs, or sperm. Infected people should tell any sexual partner about their HIV-positive status. They should not exchange body fluids during sexual activity, and should use whatever preventive measures (such as condoms) will give their partner the most protection.
HIV-positive women who wish to become pregnant should seek counseling about the risk to their unborn children, and methods to help prevent their baby from becoming infected. The use of certain medications dramatically reduces the chances that the baby will become infected during pregnancy.
It recommends that HIV-infected women avoid breast-feeding to prevent transmitting HIV to their infants through breast milk.
Safe-sex practices, such as latex condoms, are highly effective in preventing HIV transmission. HOWEVER, there remains a risk of acquiring the infection even with the use of condoms. Abstinence is the only sure way to prevent sexual transmission of HIV.
The riskiest sexual behavior is unprotected receptive anal intercourse. The least risky sexual behavior is receiving oral sex. Performing oral sex on a man is associated with some risk of HIV transmission, but this is less risky than unprotected vaginal intercourse. Female-to-male transmission of the virus is much less likely than male-to-female transmission. Performing oral sex on a woman who does not have her period has a low risk of transmission.
HIV-positive patients who are taking antiretroviral medications are less likely to transmit the virus. For example, pregnant women who are on effective treatment at the time of delivery, and who have undetectable viral loads, give HIV to their baby less than 1% of the time, compared with about 20% of the time if medications are not used.