HIV and AIDS is a global phenomenon and India has the third largest population of patients in the world. Statistics gathered in 2013 estimated that 2.1 million people in India were affected by the disease. Among all the states in India, the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland have the highest concentration of HIV victims.


Sections of the Affected Population

The sections of the population worst affected by HIV typically face stigma and social ostracization. This is the reason why the problem is compounded because their access to information, treatment, and healthcare is severely restricted. The main such sections are:

?     Sex workers

?     Homosexual males

?     Transgender people

?     People who take injectible drugs that may be medicinal, or recreational or narcotics

?     Workers migrating from rural to urban areas

?     Truck drivers


What is HIV

HIV is a short form for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Once this virus enters the human body, it cannot be eliminated, as there are no medicines or vaccinations against it. The human body has CD4 or T Cells, which protect it from infections and other diseases. The HIV destroys these cells and makes the patient vulnerable to getting sick more easily. While HIV cannot be removed, it can be controlled with a treatment called ART that stands for Antiretroviral Therapy. This involves taking a combination of medicines every day and if the patient has been diagnosed with the illness in the early stages, he/she can delay or sometimes, prevent the onset of AIDS.


What is AIDS

AIDS is the short form of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. When the HIV infection reaches the final stage, the patient develops AIDS. The normal range for CD4 or T Cells is 500 to 1,600 cells/cubic millimeter. When the HIV causes this level to drop to 200 cells per cubic millimeter, the body becomes unable to resist any kind of infections. Patients with AIDS need treatment to survive. If they don’t get it, they are likely to live for about 3 years, but once they contract dangerous diseases, the lifespan cannot be longer than a year.


How is HIV Transmitted

HIV is transmitted only through the exchange of bodily fluids such as infected blood, semen and vaginal fluids. Shaking hands, hugging, kissing, dancing or even eating together is safe. HIV is not transmitted through saliva either or by being in the same room with an infected person. Water cannot carry it nor can mosquitoes or other insects transfer it by biting a patient. Here are some of the methods of transmission:

?     Sexual contact – Any kind of sexual activity such as vaginal, rectal or even oral with an infected person, can pass on the virus. Any minute tears, sores, or breaks in the skin can lead to contact with infected blood.

?     Blood transfusions – If a person receives infected blood during transfusions, he/she can get the virus.

?     Infected needles – Sharing needles and syringes with infected people can lead to the virus being passed on.

?     Childbirth and breastfeeding – Mothers can pass the virus on to their babies at the time of delivery or through breastfeeding. However, if the mother is receiving treatment all through her pregnancy, the chances of the baby getting it become low.

?     Other sexually transmitted infections or STIs – Any person who already has STIs is likely to have open sores in the genital area and thus, becomes more susceptible to getting the infection.

?     Circumcision – Circumcision in men can actually help in reducing the risk of getting infection during heterosexual intercourse.

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