AIDS awareness and public health

World AIDS day is important for raising awareness for AIDS detection and prevention

This Tuesday, Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day, and it is important to be aware of how to stay protected. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Individuals can live with HIV for many years before developing AIDS, however as the virus attacks the body it leads to a weakened immune system. Because of this, afflicted individuals may be unable to fight off other life-threatening illnesses and infections.
There are multiple ways in which the HIV virus can be spread between individuals. HIV can be transmitted by blood and through sexual contact. Condoms can help to prevent the transmission of HIV. Not only can condoms prevent pregnancy, but they also prevent the exchange of bodily fluids between partners. The virus can also be transmitted from infected mothers to their offspring either through their shared blood circulation or via breast milk.
It is important to take precautions in order to protect yourself against the possibility of HIV/AIDS as well as other sexually transmitted infections. Barrier methods such as condoms, female condoms and dental dams can be effective in preventing many STIs when used properly. A single instance of contact is enough to transmit various viruses, bacteria or parasites between an infected and uninfected individual. As such, it is important to use barriers every time you have sex. The Wellness Centre on campus has free condoms and dental dams available for those who need them, as well as free STI testing. It is important to be regularly tested for potential infections, particularly if you have changed sexual partners. Some STIs can be asymptomatic, and as such, it is important receive routine testing to ensure both you and your partner stay happy and healthy.
In 2013, approximately 35 million people were living with HIV around the world. Though the majority of infected individuals live in low- or middle-income countries, 1.2 million of these individuals were from the U.S. In 2013 alone, 1.5 million people died from an AIDS-related illness, and there are approximately 2.1 million new cases per year. It is important to respect the severity of the AIDS epidemic and take precaution wherever possible. Take pause this World AIDS Day and think of those affected by this illness. Consider how we as individuals and as a society can increase awareness, use protection and take precaution in order to help prevent the spread of this horrible disease.

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