December 17, 2017

The Editor Speaks: HIV &AIDS

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Friday, December 1st is World Day.

Cayman Islands Minister of Health in his Message said:

“As the festive season approaches, it is always a poignant time of year for people who have lost loved ones, particularly those who have succumbed to an illness such as and AIDS.

“It is important, therefore, that we observe World AIDS Day on 1 December to highlight the risks of the virus and remind everyone of the ways in which the transmission of the virus can be prevented.

“Cayman AIDS Foundation does a wonderful job year-round, partnering with the Ministry of Health and the Health Services Authority, as well as the Cayman Islands Red Cross, to educate people in the community about HIV and AIDS.

“I hope you will join members of Cayman AIDS Foundation at their World AIDS Day ceremony to be held for the first time at the Public Beach on West Bay Road, on Friday (1 December) at 6.30 p.m. The family-oriented event is open to all – you can even bring along your pet.”

You can read the whole Message today on iNews Cayman.

The website World AIDS Day makes these important statements:

Over 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK. Globally, there are an estimated 36.7 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. Despite this, each year in the UK around 6,000 people are diagnosed with HIV, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.

World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

For more: https://www.worldaidsday.org/

On the Healthline Website this year they published the following:

The AIDS epidemic began in the United States in the 1980s. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that HIV has claimed over 35 million lives since it was first discovered.

There’s currently no cure for HIV or AIDS. However, there are many clinical studies dedicated to researching a cure, and scientists have made great strides toward preventing and treating HIV infections.

Vaccine

The development of a vaccine for HIV would save millions of lives. However, researchers haven’t yet discovered a perfect vaccine for HIV.

In 2009, a study published in the Journal of Virology found that a vaccine prevented about 31 percent of new infections. However, further research was stopped due to dangerous risks.

In early 2013, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases stopped a clinical trial that was testing injections of the HVTN 505 vaccine. Data from the trial indicated the vaccine didn’t prevent HIV infection or reduce the amount of HIV in the blood.

Basic prevention

While no vaccine is yet available for HIV, there are ways to protect against infection.

HIV is primarily transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids. This can happen in a variety of ways including:

Sexual contact: HIV can be spread through the exchange of certain fluids during sexual contact including blood, semen, or vaginal secretions.
Blood transfusions: You may contract HIV if you receive a blood transfusion from a blood donor who has the disease. Screening blood for HIV before transfusions has greatly reduced the likelihood of this happening.
Shared needles and syringes: Needles and syringes that have been used by a person with HIV or AIDS can be contaminated with HIV.
Pregnancy, delivery, and breast-feeding: Mothers with HIV can infect their baby before and after birth.
Taking precautions to prevent transmission of HIV through these common routes may protect you from contracting the disease. Here are a few tips for protecting yourself:

Get tested for HIV and know your partner’s status before you have sex.
Get tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases.
Use condoms correctly every time you have sex.
Don’t inject drugs. If you do, make sure to use a sterile needle that hasn’t been shared with others.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) consists of daily medications used to lower the chances of getting infected with HIV. It’s designed to prevent the transmission of HIV in high-risk populations. Populations at risk can include:

men who have sex with men, if they’ve had anal sex without using a condom or had an STD in the last six months
men or women who don’t use condoms regularly with partners at high risk of HIV infection and of unknown HIV status
anyone who has injected drugs in the last six months or shared needles
women who are considering getting pregnant with HIV-positive partners
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV infection by up to 92 percent in populations who are at high risk if taken consistently. PrEP isn’t as effective if it isn’t taken consistently.

Post-exposure prophylaxis

Post-exposure prophylaxis () consists of taking antiretroviral drugs after you think you may have been exposed to HIV. Your doctor may recommend in the following situations:

You think you may have been exposed to HIV during sex (the condom broke or no condom was used).
You’ve shared needles when injecting drugs.
You’ve been sexually assaulted.
PEP should be used only as an emergency prevention method. You must start it within 72 hours of exposure, though ideally you’d start as close to the time of exposure as possible. Your doctor may prescribe multiple drugs for this procedure.

For more: https://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids/cure#treatment

It is a sobering thought that even after nearly forty years there is no cure for AIDS.

It is good we have a day set aside to make us aware HIV and AIDS is still with us and may be for a long time.

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