Today is World AIDS day. Despite the many advances in the treatment of HIV and AIDS there still remains division, disparity and disregard for human rights – and today is a day to call for change!
This year the theme for World Aids Day is Equalize! Global leaders and the entire population are being asked to recognise failures and inequalities that are threatening the lives of millions, and to equalise access to essential services for those who need it.
“We can end AIDS – if we end the inequalities which perpetuate it. This World AIDS Day we need everyone to get involved in sharing the message that we will all benefit when we tackle inequalities…to keep everyone safe, to protect everyone’s health, we need to Equalize.” – UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima
There have been many advances in the recognition and treatment of HIV and AIDS but raising awareness now needs to be on everyone’s agenda – there are only 8 more years to achieve the goal of ending AIDS as a global health threat by 2030. This will not be possible unless inequalities are addressed.
HIV and AIDS explained
The terms HIV and AIDS are often incorrectly used interchangeably. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the name of the virus and describes the weakening of the immune system by the virus. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) describes the collection of illnesses caused by the virus.
HIV is transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluid, anal mucus and breast milk. Contrary to some beliefs, it is not passed on through kissing, hugging, sharing household items and bedding, spitting, sneezing or coughing. When someone is on effective treatment they can’t pass HIV on.
HIV was first identified in the early 1980s, although there are reports of a similar disease dating as far back as 1920. At the time, little was known about the disease, and people who were diagnosed with HIV eventually developed AIDS. Untreated HIV progresses through stages from flu-like symptoms to late-stage HIV. There is no cure for HIV infection but things have changed dramatically over the years. Thanks to increasing access to effective HIV prevention and diagnosis, and advances in antiretroviral therapy HIV infection has become a manageable chronic health condition, enabling people living with HIV to lead long and healthy lives.
However, treatment and medication availability varies around the world, and it is this disparity that puts people at risk of developing serious complications.
Facts and Figures
Role of physiotherapy
Physiotherapists play an essential role in the physical well-being of HIV patients. Exercise and fitness education is critical for improving health and well-being. Physiotherapists are also well positioned to treat the symptoms of associated illnesses, which can cause respiratory, neurological and musculoskeletal problems. Advocating for, remaining open-minded and non-judgmental, and being able to listen to, empower, and never stop learning are all roles of physiotherapists. Physiotherapists make a difference every day, not just today!
Ways to get involved
Raise awareness in your community today, there are lots of ways to take part, here are some ideas:
- Read up on HIV and AIDS so you can be informed to raise awareness
- Use a red ribbon to raise awareness and show your support – you can wear one or add to your social media profile
- Raise awareness of testing – the only way to find out if someone has HIV
- Share your activities and support on social media and tag #WorldAIDSDay