December 1, 2011 marks the 24th observance of World AIDS Day. Internationally, this year’s theme is “Getting to Zero,” as in zero infections. In the United States, the theme is “Leading with Science, Uniting for Action.” These two themes reflect the latest developments in HIV/AIDS science and research, including new treatments and testing pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis.
What is HIV/AIDS?
HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS. There are two types of HIV, HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is more common. Both types damage specific white blood cells called CD4+ T-cells, which are crucial to helping the body fight disease. AIDS is acquired immune deficiency syndrome, the late stage of HIV infection, when a person’s immune system is severely damaged and is unable to stave off certain infections, diseases and cancers.
For more basic HIV/AIDS information, please visit the CDC’s web page:http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/basic/index.htm
How is HIV spread?
HIV is spread primarily by:
Not using a condom when having sex with a person who has HIV. All unprotected sex with someone who has HIV contains some risk. However:
Unprotected anal sex is riskier than unprotected vaginal sex.
Among men who have sex with other men, unprotected receptive anal sex is riskier than unprotected insertive anal sex.
Having multiple sex partners or the presence of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can increase the risk of infection during sex. Unprotected oral sex can also be a risk for HIV transmission, but it is a much lower risk than anal or vaginal sex.
Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment used to prepare illicit drugs for injection.
Being born to an infected mother—HIV can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breast-feeding.
HIV cannot reproduce outside the human body. HIV IS NOT SPREAD BY:
Air or water.
Insects, including mosquitoes. Studies conducted by CDC researchers and others have shown no evidence of HIV transmission from insects.
Saliva, tears, or sweat. There is no documented case of HIV being transmitted by spitting.
Casual contact like shaking hands or sharing dishes.
Closed-mouth or “social” kissing.
For more information on HIV transmission routes, prevention, and more, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/basic/index.htm
What is the current state of HIV/AIDS?
Worldwide: UNAIDS estimates that there are 33.3 million people worldwide living with HIV. Slightly more than half of all people living with HIV are women and girls.
The estimated number of adults and children living with HIV through 2009 are as follows:
SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: 22.5 million
MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA: 460,000
SOUTH & SOUTHEAST ASIA: 4.1 million
EAST ASIA: 770,000
CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA: 1.4 million
EASTERN EUROPE/CENTRAL ASIA: 1.4 million
WESTERN/CENTRAL EUROPE: 820,000
NORTH AMERICA: 1.5 million
For more information on the state of HIV worldwide, visit UNAIDS: http://www.unaids.org/en/
United States: At the end of 2008, CDC estimates that 1,178,350 people 13 years or older in the United States are living with HIV. Of those 1.1 million people, 20% don’t know they’re infected.
What can I do?
Find out more about HIV related stigma and what you can do about it here http://banyantreeproject.org/stigma.php