AIDS Awareness Month
AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and is a serious chronic condition that is characterized by a decreased number of T-cells in your body. T-cells are vital to your immune systems defense. AIDS originates from an HIV positive diagnosis and because it is a virus, it does not replicate itself. Instead, HIV takes over friendly cells in your body. This condition leads to a heightened susceptibility to infections and these infections are normally the cause of death in patients as opposed to AIDS itself. AIDS is spread from person to person through contact with bodily fluids (blood, sexual intercourse, and cerebrospinal fluid) Vaginal and anal membranes provide a very hospitable environment for the virus when compared to oral membranes, therefore unprotected vaginal or anal sex can put someone at high risk for HIV. HIV can also be passed from mother to child either before birth or after birth while breast feeding.
The average time between diagnosis of HIV and the onset of AIDS is between 8 and 11 years. Just like other chronic diseases, if HIV/AIDS is diagnosed early than more treatment options are available causing an increased quality of life for the patient. AIDS exhibits no distinct symptoms aside from opportunistic infections that spread easily due to a compromised immune system.
December is AIDS awareness month and December 1st is World AIDS day . The Facing AIDS initiative is an effort to reduce any stigma related to AIDS as well as promoting testing. Social media is involved in sharing the message with the hash tag #FacingAIDS. As a part of World AIDS Day and AIDS awareness month, aids.gov is urging individuals to learn more about the epidemic and to locate HIV testing centers. If you have engaged in unprotected sex with multiple partners or are an intravenous drug-user who shares needles, than you are at high risk and should be tested for HIV.