Even as governments pool resources to seek a lasting solution for the HIV/AIDS menace, there is still a lot that the citizens of the world can do to prevent its spread. Key among the preventative measures meant to arrest the prevalence of the terminal illness includes raising awareness about the different aspects of the disease. But how can the responsible agencies and governments organize fruitful awareness campaigns? Here are some of the most effective strategies on how to go about raising the campaign:
1. Talking openly about it
The fact that the disease has continually anguished different countries of the world for close to three decades hasn’t helped raise awareness about it. There is still a large cloud of mystery around the subject with most people unaware of the consequences of contracting the disease to themselves and their immediate dependents. The HIV/AIDS debate has to be adopted at an international level. Educate the populace on everything AIDS-related and encourage them to talk about these openly.
2. Educating the young teens on how to avoid
Young adults and sexually active teens present the biggest threat in the fight against HIV/AIDS. As they go about life unaware of the dangers of contracting the disease, they risk exposure to the terminal illness thus acting as conduits through which the disease passes over to a new generation. Educating them on the life-changing impacts that contracting the disease has on their life and introducing them to preventive methods like safe sex and voluntary testing, therefore, goes a long way in capping its spread.
3. Encouraging and incentivizing free testing
Running television and radio ads encouraging individuals to turn out for free HIV/AIDS testing isn’t enough. These calls have to be incentivized in a manner that helps the populace to overcome their internal fears and show up for the voluntary testing. For instance, governments may promise free access to the drugs and psychological help for the infected and if possible offer them jobs that help them support their households as well as access balanced diets necessary for healthy living.
4. Addressing the stigma and care for the infected
The stigma surrounding the disease plays the most prominent role in discouraging people living with AIDS from seeking help. It also prevents numerous others from testing and therefore increases the risk of the infected but unaware individuals further spreading the disease. However, by addressing and breaking the stigma surrounding AIDS and stigmatization of the infected, more people would be willing to show up for tests with the infected playing a bigger role in helping prevent further spread of disease.
AIDS represents a virus which affects the immune system of the infected person. This is the most severe and developed form of the contamination with HIV. A common misconception is that HIV and AIDS are the same. HIV can, in fact, exists independently from AIDS. If AIDS exists in the body – so does HIV.
A lot of people discover they are sick only when AIDS gives apparent and alarming symptoms. This is why testing should be done by everyone but especially by people who already have sexually transmitted diseases.After the virus had been acquired an infected person might miss the symptoms or lack them altogether.
Another case is when people experience symptoms of a common cold or something similar to the flu. This is only typical of the initial period which is followed by a quiet symptomless period.
The progression of the disease increases the person’s risk of acquiring other diseases like tuberculosis, cancer or various types of tumors, and other opportunistic infections. A common effect of the disease is also significant weight loss.
If a person suffering from this phase of the illness should avoid treatment their lifespan will be significantly shortened and would, at best, last three years.
When people are open about their situation they are showing that they are aware and responsible. This serves a purpose to the community and, of course, poses a good example. This should evoke support and understanding instead of judgment which people with AIDS commonly receive. A collective goal should be to keep it safe and keep others safe as well.
People who have AIDS sometimes have the luck to be treated properly and that the disease doesn’t affect their lives drastically. They sometimes use medication and they sometimes have symptoms. This would all be part of their routine.
AIDS can get acquired in various ways, most of them known and fairly logical. It is caused in most cases by unprotected relations, blood transfers with blood which is contaminated. Also, it is common for infants to acquire this disease through contact with mother’s infected blood or other bodily fluids, and through breastfeeding.
To protect babies, mothers and their children may undertake antiretroviral treatment also known as ART. Antiretroviral treatment can secure a healthy life and a longer lifespan. Treatment of any kind is recommended as soon as the diagnosis is established.
Fluids which do not transmit the virus are saliva, tears, or urine.
Prevention can be secured in several ways. One is obviously protected sexual relations, another is blood and needle control, scanning and safety and, of course, regular testing and treatment.
HIV is a disease which affects your immune system. It allows other diseases and viruses to develop rapidly and affect you more harmfully than they would if you were HIV free. If it is not treated correctly HIV can shorten your lifespan significantly. One could survive only a couple of years to a decade depending on the subtype and age group they belong to.
It is recommended to start treatment as soon as the diagnosis is concluded.When the cell-mediated immunity is low or absent the body is more prone to opportunistic infections. This means that it is easier to develop AIDS which affect the cells and the immune system.
Most commonly the disease is spread easily as a sexually transmitted infection. This case makes the largest rate of infection cause for HIV positive patients. However, other cases include being infected by having a blood transfer or contact with blood which carries the virus, semen or vaginal fluids. Using infected and unsafe needles is a common cause of spreading HIV.
There is also the case with infants being infected through breast milk. An infant can acquire the disease by being born of an HIV positive mother. This happens because the infant is in contact with the infected blood or vaginal fluids. If the illness had been established earlier, the baby and the mother can undergo antiretroviral treatment in order to prevent the baby to acquire the disease as well.
The perplexing fact about this is that many people are unaware they are, in fact, infected with the virus. And the most affected groups are young girls and women, especially living in rural parts of the world. The underdevelopment of certain countries contributes to women not receiving proper counsel, correct information or even regular testing.
Most of the countries affected are in Africa. This is where the highest rates of people who are HIV positive can be found. Even in urban areas, we may find a problem. Only a very low percentage of the population had actually been tested and these areas have a sexually active and traveling people.
The risk is heightened by blood donations since people give blood unaware of the fact that they might be contributing infected blood. However, regular screening and check-ups are done in order to prevent this from happening.
HIV has several stages which can be established only via laboratory testing and by following evident signs and symptoms. What is alarming is the fact that a great number of HIV positive people discover it only at an advanced stage. This lowers their quality of life significantly. Apart from that, it affects their treatment and most importantly is very damaging to their overall health.
Throughout our lives, we’ve heard dreadful stories about the unexpected and inexplicable health decline of family members, neighbors, partners, and the stories usually end with the same villain – AIDS. This seemingly silent killer lurks secretly and is hard to detect but very easy to catch.
Being a woman it all falls on your shoulders considerably harder. People already judge women who are open about intercourse and safety, but especially women whose health or safety failed them. It is particularly hard for women living in established patriarchal societies which value men and their need over women and their health.
What is more disturbing is that more than half of HIV positive people are, in fact, women. And most of them are young women. This disproportionate spread of the disease is due to men having more freedom to choose and say “no” than women.
Women are also looked through the scope of motherhood. Therefore, being an unhealthy mother automatically means being a bad mother. This struggle for basic rights is an ongoing social project which should be everyone’s concern.
Because of unequal rights and freedoms in the world, women are bound to be more affected by this dangerous disease. Ruthless inequalities in economic, social and cultural life put women in a position where they are more at risk than men.
This should be not only a personal mission but a collective goal to provide women with a choice and with the freedom they need to keep themselves healthy and happy. Regardless of whether they are HIV positive or HIV free – women fight hard for their wellbeing and should not have to do it alone.
If you are a woman affected by AIDS or if you are at risk of being affected think about the care you need and the lifestyle changes you need to make. The individual goal should be to keep yourself safe and to keep others safe. But on a grand scale try not to make things harder than they already are.
Women affected by the disease have to work harder to be welcomed and accepted. These women have to watch their physical and mental health much more seriously than other people. They need to think about themselves, their children and potential partners. This is not an easy task and is definitely not an easy life. Support women and girls you know who suffer from HIV/AIDS and make the world a better place starting today.