30 Years! 1 December 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the World Aids Day. Since 1988, The red ribbon and the global campaigns have made significant strides. But still, the numbers are increasing day by day. The AIDS epidemic is still at large. HIV is still leading many lives to the darkness.
We as a society have come leaps and bounds in terms of how we dealt with HIV and AIDS diagnosed patients. The campaigns are becoming very strong. The availability of high-quality and effective treatments are increasing. Overall, the World is changing, especially the thinking of the people. They are no longer dealt with the same apathy as before. Diseases like Aids and Cancer are very normal now.
But still, new HIV infection cases are not declining fast enough. Above all, too many people are still dying from AIDS-related diseases. An HIV test is quick and painless, but still many put it off. So then why is it important to know one’s status as a retro positive or negative? Why have checkups when I don’t have any symptoms?
With the campaigns every year, AIDS is very familiar to us. There is no need to provide an awareness about the causes or risks. How it can damage the immune system or What will happen if we didn’t give proper care, there is no need to explain all those things. But still, 9.4 million people among 37 million, living with HIV do not know they are living with the virus. Therefore Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) sets the theme for this year as: ‘Know your status’. UNAIDS wants nine in 10 people to know their status by 2020.
The answer to those lies in the fact the HIV is not a killer on its own, it eats away at your immune system, till your body falls victim to the other organisms which take advantage and infect your system. So as long as your immune system is not that compromised, which is measured through CD4 cell counts, you may well have no symptoms. But at the same time, you shall be harbouring the virus and even worse be transmitting them to your loved ones, everytime you get intimate with them.
And even if you are a selfish prick, and have no intention to help your loved ones, an early diagnosis might let you live for a good 30 odd years with good treatment as in case of Magic Johnson( American retired professional basketball player). Anti Retroviral therapy following the diagnosis of the HIV will not cure the disease but it shall help maintain a better standard of living.
Social stigma is the primary factor that stops people from getting an HIV test. In this digital age, everyone is taking this disease lightly. Therefore, there is no need to fear the banishment from their society or group. India’s HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Act says that no individual is compelled to disclose his/her HIV status except by an order of the court. The Act keeps HIV-related information protected. It gives a confidentiality. The act is really prohibiting the discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS.
Test your HIV Status at least once as part of routine health care. CDC recommends it. Therefore If they have the virus, they can urgently link to testing and treatment services. One in four people, about 9 million, are unaware that they are HIV-positive.
As per the reports, by 2030, around 80 adolescents will be dying of AIDS every day. Certainly, we need to accelerate progress in preventing transmission. If such testing gives you powerful information to help you take control of your health, then why don’t you know your status. At least, you could offer yourself a long run. You could also reduce the risk of transmission. If you can discover the virus fastly, you can get better treatment and care. Finally, your longevity is your own responsibility. Be it positive or negative: it is better to know rather than not to.