50 Facts on HIV/AIDS
Dr KK Aggarwal
National President IMA
1. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which damages the immune system, lowering the resistance of the body to fight off infections.
2. AIDS is the advanced stage (stage 4) of HIV infection.
3. Progression from HIV infection to AIDS, if untreated, may take 8-10 years. In young children, it usually develops much faster.
4. HIV-positive people may remain asymptomatic but can still pass on the virus to others.
5. 78 million (69.5 million–87.6 million) people have become infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic (end 2015).
6. 35 million (29.6 million–40.8 million) people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic (end 2015).
7. 36.7 million (34.0 million–39.8 million) people globally were living with HIV (end 2015).
8. 1.1 million (940 000–1.3 million) people died from AIDS-related illnesses (end 2015).
9. 2.1 million (1.8 million–2.4 million) people became newly infected with HIV (end 2015).
10. 18.2 million (16.1 million–19.0 million) people were accessing antiretroviral therapy (June 2016)
11. People with HIV are at risk of developing active TB disease.
12. Transmission of HIV/AIDS can be prevented.
13. HIV spreads through unprotected sex with an HIV–positive person.
14. HIV spreads through transfusions of unscreened (HIV–positive) blood.
15. HIV can spread from an infected woman to her child during pregnancy and childbirth.
16. HIV infection can be passed from a mother to her child through breastfeeding.
17. HIV spreads by unsterilized infected needles or syringes, especially those used for injecting drugs.
18. Used infected razor blades, knives or tools that cut or pierce the skin also carry some risk of spreading HIV.
19. Touching, hugging, shaking hands, coughing and sneezing will not spread the virus.
20. HIV/AIDS cannot be transmitted through toilet seats, telephones, plates, glasses, eating utensils, towels, bed linen, swimming pools or public baths.
22. Practicing safe sexual behaviors such as using condoms prevents HIV transmission.
23. All pregnant mothers should get HIV test done.
24. A blood test is the most accurate way to tell if someone is infected with HIV.
25. Most tests for HIV/AIDS check for the presence of antibodies to the virus.
26. If the result of an HIV/AIDS test is negative, this means the person tested is not infected or it is too early to detect the virus.
27. Infection may not be detected up to the first few weeks to few months.
28. Even if the first test is negative, the test should be repeated 6 months after any possible exposure to HIV infection.
29. The time period when an infected person does not test as HIV positive is called ‘window period’.
30. All people, including children, are at risk for HIV/AIDS, including occupational risk.
31. People who have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) are at greater risk of getting HIV and of spreading HIV to others.
32. Persons suffering from STIs have a 5–10 times higher risk of becoming infected with HIV if they have unprotected sexual intercourse with an HIV–infected person.
33. If both partners are not treated for a STI, they will continue infecting each other with the sexually transmitted infection.
34. The more sex partners people have, the greater the risk that one of them will have HIV/AIDS and pass it on.
35. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) should be started at the earliest to prevent HIV transmission to sexual or drug using partner/s or from the mother to the infant during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
36. People with STIs should seek prompt treatment and avoid sexual intercourse or practice safe sex.
38. Internal secretions, which can harbor HIV virus, are blood (including menstrual blood, semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk, peritoneal fluid, brain fluid, pleural lung fluid, pericardial heart fluid etc. These secretions, when mixed with secretions of another person infected with HIV transmit HIV.
39. External secretions, which do not harbor the HIV virus are saliva, tear, sweat, urine and feces. The mixing of these secretions with secretions of an HIV-positive person does not transmit HIV.
40. HIV does not spread by mosquitoes or other insects.
41. HIV counseling and testing can help in the early detection of HIV infection, to get the support services for those who are infected.
42. Counseling helps to manage other infectious diseases they might have, and learn about living with HIV/AIDS and how to avoid infecting others.
43. Counseling and testing can also help those not infected to remain uninfected through education about safer sex.
44. Pre-exposure prophylaxis with tenofovir-emtricitabine in high risk patients and who are committed to medication adherence and close follow-up can reduce the risk of HIV infection by 48 to 75%.
45. Drinking alcohol or taking drugs interferes with judgment. Even those who understand the risks of AIDS and the importance of safer sex may become careless after drinking or using drugs.
46. Young people need to be educated that there is no vaccination and no cure for HIV/AIDS.
47. WHO recommends innovative HIV-self-testing and partner notification approaches to increase HIV testing services among undiagnosed people.
48. Prevention is the only protection against HIV/AIDS.
49. ABC for safe sex: Abstain, Be faithful to your partner and if you cannot, use Condoms.
50. 90–90–90 is a treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic. By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.