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The theme of the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, which shows support for people living with HIV and commemorates those who have died, is “Know your Status.”

According to the Centres for Disease Control (CDC), people between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. HIV testing allows you to know for sure whether the virus is there in your body or not, and seek medical help if you are HIV-positive, or continue taking steps to avoid getting the deadly virus.

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which enters the body from outside.

This virus affects our immunity system and decreases the ability of the body to defend itself against infections and diseases. HIV virus is transmitted through contact with infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids or even breast milk.

As sexual transmission is one of the ways the HIV infection spreads, along with the fact that it remains incurable so far, there is a certain social stigma attached to HIV positive patients.

Here are some myths that people believe HIV can spread through –

  • They think HIV/AIDS is spread by kissing and hugging.
  • Another false belief is that you can get HIV by sharing food or water.
  • You can contract HIV/AIDS if someone sneezes or coughs.
  • People think HIV can be spread by mosquito bite.
  • One of the biggest false beliefs is that you can’t have a baby if you are HIV positive.

Here are some facts to break these myths –

  • AIDS cannot be transmitted by sharing food and eating utensils with HIV positive person.
  • HIV cannot spread through saliva (Kissing), hugging or shaking hands.
  • The myth that women with HIV cannot have a baby is false. There are a number of options for women who are HIV positive to have healthy babies. HIV positive women who become pregnant are encouraged to speak with their doctor about the best treatment options available. Early prenatal care is important to reduce the likelihood of mother to child transmission.
  • It cannot spread through the sweat of infected person.
  • AIDS is not caused by mosquito bite.

Some numerical data facts about AIDS –

  • About 35 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since 1981, including 940,000 in 2017.
  • Every week, almost 7,000 young women aged between 15 and 24 are infected with HIV.
  • An estimated 77 million people have become infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic in 1981, including 1.8 million in 2017.
  • South Africa has the world’s highest HIV prevalence, with almost one in five people infected.
  • United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) wants nine in 10 people to know their status by 2020.

We need to support the HIV campaign of this year “Know your status,” and let the mission UNAIDS be successful.

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