This year, as it does every year, sees World AIDS Day held on December 1st. It aims to raise awareness about the disease, show support for people living with the disease and remember those who’ve died from it. Further, it endeavours to educate people about AIDS symptoms and AIDS treatment, as well as promote safe sex for the prevention of HIV and AIDS.
AIDS (or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the damaged state resulting from the HIV (or Human Immunodeficiency Virus). People contract HIV via contact with an infected person, usually through sex (anal, vaginal and even oral), when sharing needles or other equipment for drug use (that may have bodily fluids on it), during pregnancy, vaginal childbirth or breastfeeding. It cannot be caught by simply touching someone with the disease, sharing toilets or wash rooms, or using cutlery/consuming food or drink prepared by someone with HIV. If you contract HIV you are then known as HIV positive – although the disease doesn’t determine someone’s life.
After a person with HIV has lived with the disease for some time, it can damage the immune system of the person and they become susceptible to many other diseases and conditions. This is known as AIDS. While AIDS and HIV are often (incorrectly) used interchangeably, they are two different conditions. You contract HIV and education aims to prevent the transmission through safe sex, STD testing and being aware of the situations where you can catch HIV. Sometimes, someone can be infected with HIV and show no symptoms, even for many years, so it’s important to be tested regularly if you place yourself in situations where you can contract the disease.
Not everyone with HIV has AIDS, and these days the progression from HIV to AIDS can be slowed for many years. Education also seeks to teach those with HIV about living healthily, and how not to pass it on. Unfortunately, HIV is on the rise again, with 1236 new cases diagnosed last year in Australia. There is no vaccine or cure for HIV; education is all we have.
If you feel as though you’ve been in a position where you’ve risked contracting HIV, it is important to be tested straight away before you potentially pass it onto someone else. It’s a simple blood test, and if you feel as though you may have put yourself at risk very recently, you may benefit from a course of medication which could help stop HIV from becoming established in your body. Time is of the essence, and you can book an appointment with a doctor online, for free, any time of the day or night. With 1stAvailable, it’s a matter of selecting a doctor and booking your time. Don’t delay – act quickly and reassure yourself today.