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 World AIDS Day is observed every year on 1 December to bring attention to HIV, make people aware of people about the virus, and speak out against the stigma associated with it. The day was first observed in 1998.

AIDS or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a life-threatening condition that is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV attacks the immune system of the person and makes him or her susceptible to other diseases. AIDS is the final stage of a patient living with HIV.

There is no effective cure for HIV to date, however, there the ART or antiretroviral therapy reduces the amount of virus or viral load in a person’s body.

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According to (WHO), 38 million people were infected with HIV in 2018. The report added that one in five people living with HIV were not aware of their infection. Also, one in three people receiving HIV treatment-experienced disruption to the supply of HIV treatments, testing, and prevention services, especially children and adolescents.

Last year, 6,90,000 people died of HIV-related causes and 1.7 million people across the world were newly infected.

India recorded its first case of AIDS caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus in 1986 and according to HIV Estimates Report 2019 of India, there are about 23.49 lakh people living with HIV in India. However, the annual new HIV infections in India have come down by 37 percent since 2010 and the AIDS mortality is estimated at 4.43 per 1,00,000 people.

The theme of World Aids Day 2020 is ‘Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Resilience and Impact’.

HIV is mainly transmitted through bodily fluids like blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids and breast milk and without treatment, a person with HIV is likely to develop AIDS.

There are certain steps people can take to prevent transmission of HIV. Since the most common way for HIV to get transferred is through anal or vaginal sex, safe sex is extremely important. Apart from this, avoiding the sharing of needles is another important thing.

A person exposed to HIV should contact a healthcare provider and obtain (PEP) which can reduce the risk of contracting HIV. A person with a higher chance of contracting HIV should talk to healthcare providers about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

According to UNAIDS, of the 2.57 million people living with HIV who faced a humanitarian crisis in 2019, around 1.43 million did not have access to ART medication. It said that every week, nearly 5,500 young women aged between 15-24 years become infected with HIV.

Winnie Byanima, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Executive Director Of UNAIDS, stated that the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic was already off track before COVID-19 and one must put people first to get the AIDS response back on track.

“We must end the social injustices that put people at risk of contracting HIV. And we must fight for the right to health,” she said, before adding that only global solidarity and shared responsibility will help them beat the coronavirus, end the AIDS epidemic, and guarantee the right to health for everyone.

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