You probably know that HIV/AIDS remains a global health crisis, and that advocacy and action are crucial to make sure people everywhere have access to medical care for HIV/AIDS.
Ensuring that we each do our part to fight this global crisis is crucial. But before you get started, here are a few important facts that you should know about HIV/AIDS.
HIV and AIDS are different
HIV is a virus that can lead to AIDS. HIV impacts an individual’s immune system and causes it to deteriorate. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.
AIDS is a condition that can result from HIV if it is not treated. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, and it “develops when HIV has caused serious damage to the immune system.”
Although there is no cure for HIV, it is possible to live with it
As of today, there is no cure for HIV. But the disease can be managed with the right and proper medical care and treatment.
HIV can be managed through treatments that are made up of “a combination of three or more antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.” Those who undergo antiretroviral therapy (ART) are not cured of HIV, but ART can help strengthen an individual’s immune system and ability to fight off infections.
Thankfully, 28.7 million people have access to these life-saving treatments.
Origins of the disease trace back to the late 1800s
Studies have shown that the first origins of HIV can be traced as far back as the late 1800s and could be related to the “simian immunodeficiency virus” that is found in chimpanzees.
Symptoms and signs can vary
Depending on the stage of infection, the signs and symptoms of HIV can vary. At first, the body might experience an “influenza-like” illness, or no symptoms at all. This usually occurs during the first few weeks after the initial infection. But as the infection progresses and the immune system weakens, symptoms such as weight loss, fever, diarrhea, cough, and swollen lymph nodes can occur.
Transmission of HIV can happen in a number of ways. It can move between people through the exchange of bodily fluids such as blood, breast milk, and more. Beyond that, it can also be transmitted between a mother and child during pregnancy and through childbirth, through blood transfusions, through intercourse, or through the sharing of contaminated needles.
Around 38.4 million people were living with HIV as of 2021
UNAIDS estimated that around 38.4 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2021. Approximately two-thirds of people living with HIV, or 25.8 million people, are in Africa. There is still significant work needed to tackle HIV/AIDS. In 2021, 650,000 people died from HIV-related causes.
No one is immune to HIV/AIDS
There is a stigma that HIV/AIDS only affects certain groups. But HIV/AIDS can affect anyone. While it might be more prevalent in certain parts of the world and certain groups are more at risk, HIV/AIDS, like other diseases, knows no boundaries. It can impact people regardless of where they’re from or what communities they are a part of.
Global crises are threatening progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS
There has been major progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS over the past two decades, but the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting that progress. In 2021, 1.5 million people became newly infected with HIV. This was partly due to COVID-19, which interrupted testing and treatment, and the lingering impacts of other global crises. Learn more about the current state of the fight against HIV/AIDS.
You can make a difference in the fight by signing our petition
Now that you’ve brushed up on your HIV/AIDS knowledge, it’s time to take action. Join us in urging global leaders to reinvest in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. This global player provides organizations around the world with the tools to fight each disease, and this year, global leaders will have the opportunity to re-invest in it and continue to save millions of lives. Join us in demanding they do so by adding your name to our petition!