World AIDS Day - 1st December
World AIDS Day is celebrated every year on 1st December to make the public aware of AIDS. So far 30 million people have died of premature death due to this terrible disease exposed about 40 years ago. Still 33 million people, of whom 2.5 million are children, are suffering from this disease. In India, however, the proportion of HIV positive people is only 0.34% of the total population. But being the second largest country in the world, it ranks third in the world in total number of patients. But there is some consolation from the fact that where earlier there was no treatment and the patient did not live for more than a year, now if the right treatment is provided at the right time, one can live up to 70 years. With more than 30 types of drugs available in one or more combinations, treatment is now possible. Apart from this, many means are also available for its prevention, such as AIDS vaccine, topical gels, anti retroviral drugs for prevention. But only about 40-60% of people can be prevented from getting AIDS. That's why there is safety in prevention.
Let us learn in detail about AIDS.
What is AIDS
The full name of AIDS is Acquired Immuno-deficiency Syndrome. This is a disease in which the body loses its natural ability to fight external infections. And responsible for this is a nano-sized virus called HIV – i.e. Human Immunodeficiency Virus. After entering the body, this virus destroys the cells called CD-4 in the blood, which reduces the body's ability to fight infection. And all kinds of diseases arise.
Is HIV and AIDS the same thing?
No, being HIV positive means the AIDS virus has entered your body. But it is not necessary that the disease has arisen. AIDS means that due to the virus, disorders have started arising in the body, i.e. symptoms of diseases have started appearing.
How does AIDS happen? There are 4 main causes:
* By having unprotected sex.
* From infected blood.
* By infected needles.
* From pregnant mother to baby.
Symptoms of AIDS :
* Having mild fever.
* Persistent weight loss.
* Persistent or frequent diarrhea.
* Enlargement of lymph nodes.
AIDS patients catch the following diseases easily:
Infections such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, many opportunistic infections and tumors like lymphoma.
Following diseases are also transmitted along with AIDS:
Hepatitis -B and C
Nowadays, VCTC i.e. Voluntary Counseling and Testing Centers are established in every government hospital, where anyone can go and get himself / herself checked voluntarily. In VCTC, the blood test is done three times. AIDS is diagnosed if all three tests are positive.
After exposure to AIDS infection, it takes from 3 weeks to 3 months for the test to come positive for the disease. This is called the window period. That is why there is an advantage of testing only after three months from the probable event. However, during this period even though the patient may be negetive, but still can be infectitious to others.
AIDS does not spread like this:
* By shaking hands.
* By eating food together.
* In the swimming pool.
* The chances of getting AIDS after a hair cut from a barber are very less. But still it is beneficial to take precautions.
* Kissing - does not happen with ordinary kissing, but deep kissing can transmit infection, especially if there are blisters or wounds in the mouth.
There is safety in prevention:
* Practice safe sex.
* Be careful when taking blood.
* Stay away from drugs.
* Get yourself checked in case of any doubts.
Under sections 269 and 270 of the Indian Penal Code -
"Any person who knowingly or unlawfully or negligently acts negligently towards a disease which is likely to endanger the life of any other person, shall be punished with imprisonment, or with fine, or with both." That is, if the HIV positive person does not tell his future life partner before marriage, then he can be legally convicted, and he can be punished. It is necessary from a medical point of view that the HIV positive person should make his future life partner aware of the reality before marriage to prevent infection.
But now an important question arises - should the boy and the girl get their HIV test done before marriage? Will this be acceptable in our society?
Note: The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) on behalf of the Central Government in the country and the Delhi State AIDS Control Society (DSACS) on behalf of the Government of Delhi are working towards preventing the infection of AIDS. On their behalf, AIDS Voluntary Counseling and Testing Centers (VCTC) have been opened in all major hospitals, where arrangements have been made for free investigation, counseling and treatment related to AIDS.
By Dr T S Daral
Nuclear Medicine Specialist,
Ex Medical Superintendent in Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi
Ex Consultant, Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya, Delhi