Today, December 1st 2016, is World AIDS Day. World Aids Day has been held on the first of every December since 1988. World AIDS Day works to spread awareness of the disease and to remind the general public that AIDS and HIV still must be taken seriously and that there is still a lot of work to do in order to prevent the transmission of new cases, as well as to better care for those who are infected with the disease.
What is AIDS/HIV?
AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), is caused by a virus called human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV can be treated in order to prevent AIDS, however there is currently no cure for HIV.
HIV causes AIDS by attacking the immune cells of a person’s body, which can leave a person vulnerable to infections that otherwise would not have made them sick. These infections are referred to as opportunistic infections, an opportunistic infection is a signal that someone’s HIV may have progressed into AIDS.
As said earlier, HIV doesn’t always have to progress to AIDS. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) can work to help keep the immune system healthy, as well as lower the risk of transmitting the virus to others. People on ART have dramatically improved lifespans. It is imperative to get on ART as soon as possible to lessen the effects the HIV virus has on your immune system.
1 in 7 people infected with HIV do not know they have the virus. Testing is necessary to start treatment and reduce harm done to your immune system as well as risk of transmission to others.
According to AIDS.gov, you should be tested if:
- You have had sex with someone who is HIV positive, or someone whose status you were unsure of since your last test
- Had tuberculosis or hepatitis
- Used shared needles
- Been diagnosed with another type of sexually transmitted disease
HIV/ AIDS and Physical Therapy
Physical Therapists do not treat AIDS or HIV, rather, they treat the symptoms of AIDS/HIV and HIV/AIDS treatment to allow patients to live as fully and independently as possible. Both the disease itself and the treatment for it have effects like increasing fatigue, decreasing strength and endurance, and increased pain. Physical therapy can help by tailoring programs to help with pain, ability to perform everyday tasks, improve heart health, balance, endurance, strength and flexibility.
You can mark today by doing a number of things:
Wear a red ribbon to spread awareness
Donate to groups that work to help people living with AIDS and help to prevent its transmission:
United Nations (UN AIDS)
National HIV Testing database: https://gettested.cdc.gov/