World AIDS Day 2017: Three Decades Later There’s Light At The End Of This Deadly Tunnel
When the disease was first discovered in 1983, it was labeled HTLV-III/LAV. The name was later shortened to just HIV, and with it, another terrifying label came into being – AIDS: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Three decades since we have been living with this disease, it has taken more than 35 million lives. At first, it was considered a death sentence. There were no known cures or treatments, and even less understanding of how it was passed on from person to person.
HIV/AIDS became an epidemic resulting in both taking the physical toll, and the media reaction. It was rumored and lied about. Panic set in, as did a massive learning curve for those lucky enough to survive those early days. Now, some 35 years later, we’ve come a long way from the witch hunts and scare tactics of the past. We have made amazing strides in AIDS awareness and HIV prevention. While gaining a better understanding of how to keep those infected live longer, and more importantly, live better lives.
At present, the number of cases of HIV worldwide has been on the decrease. It is estimated that over 36 million people are living with it today. While some continents have seen a slight increase, the rest of the planet has been actively pursuing ways to contain the pandemic. With December 1st celebrating World AIDS Day, it’s time to take a step back and see where we’ve been, as well as where we are going with treatment, medical approach, and perhaps most importantly, public perception.
HIV AIDS Awareness
From 1988 – 1995, the mortality rate for someone infected with HIV was 78%. At its peak (1992), it saw 11 per 100 person-years succumbing to the disease. Today, there is a significant decrease in the numbers. From 2005 to 2010, it plummeted to 15%. Much of this can be attributed to better drugs, more effective diagnosis and medication. Especially, greater public awareness and education. Previously, people believed in the misinformation that was being spread. They thought they would get AIDS by sharing the same room as someone with it or breathing the same air.
HIV AIDS Prevention
Now, we know that there are only specific ways to become infected: through unsafe sexual practices, through the sharing of intravenous drugs and needles, and coming in contact with contaminated blood and body fluids. Thanks to an increased use in condoms, as well as efforts, focused on reaching out to those addicted to heroin and other injectable substances, as well as the members of specific risk groups, AIDS is no longer a literal dead end. Society has also become more accepting, allowing those who may be at risk to feel less self-conscious about tests and treatments.
The US government has been very active, as the CDCP evaluates new prevention protocols such as vaccines, microbicides, and long-acting formulations of pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. This would improve the efficient and effective delivery of HIV care and treatment. They also continue to stress STD prevention as well as other behavioral modifications. Indeed, the toolbox has grown to include better testing, syringe exchange programs, and training for doctors and other medical staff. Three decades ago, there was no escaping the horrible truth. Now, it is possible to live a full and rewarded life…and still be HIV positive. We’ve come a long way indeed
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, AIDS awareness, AIDS awareness month, behavioral modification, December 1st World AIDS Day, HIV, HIV AIDS, HIV prevention, STD prevention