AIDS Day: HIV, the killer virus
Today, December 1st is World AIDS Day, a day dedicated to bring awareness to those who have died from the disease and strides made in the fight against it
Three decades into the AIDS pandemic, health officials say they have the medicines and other tools to stop the spread of HIV, the AIDS virus. But one of the biggest barriers is complacency.
# HIV: A virus called Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) damages the body's immune system by destroying CD4+ lymphocutes. This CD4 cells help us to fight against infections. Thus destruction of these cells by the virus leads to immune deficiency and susceptibility to different infections.
# How it spreads: HIV infection spreads through unsafe sexual contact, transfusion of infected blood or blood products, sharing needles to inject drugs and from mother to child during childbirth and breast-feeding. However, HIV does not spread through mosquito bites, tear, saliva, urine, by embracing, casual kissing, handshakes, working together, taking bath or swimming together with HIV infected person. In India, migrant population, truck drivers, sex workers and IV drug abusers are the worst affected. They in turn spread the disease to their wives, children and clients.
# How to get tested: Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC) provides free testing and counselling. ICTC centres are present in every district hospital and medical colleges. Those who test positive are referred to the nearest Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) centre.
# Treatment: Once a person is infected with HIV virus, the virus can never be eliminated from the body. However, there are drugs available which can suppress the level of virus in the body. These drugs are available free of cost at all ART centres. Every HIV positive patient may not be put on treatment immediately. The treatment is started on the basis of CD4 count and stage of the disease. The treatment has to be continued lifelong. It is extremely important to adhere to the treatment to prevent failure of the drug regimen.
# Who To Approach: The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) control programme through 35 HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Societies, and 269 ART centres throughout the country. The ART centre at MLN Medical College provides HIV testing, treatment, counseling, nutritional advice and AVR drugs to the registered patients.
# Protection & Support To Children affected with AIDS: In the short term, National Aids Control Programme is reaching out to as many children living with HIV as possible to provide them with the treatment and the care and support services that they need.
# In the long term, NACP aims to ensure that every child has access to the same comprehensive set of basic health, education and social protection services, regardless of their HIV status or that of any member of their family.
(Source: Health Department)
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