World AIDS Day

It was World AIDS Day on first December. In fact, 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. The theme for World AIDS Day (2007-08) was “Lead – Empower -Deliver”. It was promoted with the campaigning slogan, “Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise”.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS is a medical condition that is caused when the virus, called Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV), infects a healthy body.

“The concept of a World AIDS Day originated at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention. Since then, every year UN agencies, governments and all sectors of civil society worldwide join together to campaign around specific themes related to AIDS.”

AIDS was first reported in 1981 in the United States (in homosexual men in Los Angeles); it is believed to have originated in sub-Saharan Africa.

A recent study states that HIV probably moved from Africa to Haiti, and then around 1969, entered the United States. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), extensive spread of HIV appears to have begun in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The disease did not have a name then. And the general press called it GRID, which stood for Gay-related immune deficiency. But the disease infected both men and women alike. Therefore, in 1982 a new name was coined. It was called AIDS.

– A for Acquired, means that, the disease develops after birth from contact with a disease causing agent (HIV). It is not hereditary.

– ID for Immunodeficiency, means that, the disease is characterised by a weakening of the immune system. In other words, the system in human body which fights diseases is weakened.

– S for Syndrome refers to, a group of symptoms that collectively indicate the disease, where in the infected human body will have a group of health problems.

In 2007, an estimated 33.2 million people lived with the disease worldwide, and it killed an estimated 2.1 million people, including 330,000 children.

According to our National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), out of a total of 27,332 people who committed suicide due to illness, 952 had AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases (STD).

Among AIDS or STD patients who committed suicide, 334 were women. The maximum number of people who took their life in this category was in the age group of 30 to 44 years.

Seven boys and three girls below 14 years also “committed suicide” as they had AIDS or STD, the report said.

There is still no report of a complete cure for AIDS. But the AIDS stigma around the world is something that can be worked upon and cured too.

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