December 1 is World AIDS Day - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on November 26, 2014

December 1 is World AIDS Day

December 1 is World AIDS Day.

NEW VOICES will host its 7th Annual
World AIDS Day Celebration
at
Community Hospital on Dec. 3.

While the awareness of HIV/AIDS has come a long way over the last few decades, that certainly does not mean that we’re where we need to be. More than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection and approximately 35 million people around the world are living with HIV/AIDS, according to AIDS.org.

There is work to be done.

December 1 is World AIDS Day. This day serves as an opportunity for people around the world to unite in the fight against HIV, support those living with the disease and to honor those who have died from it.

Though HIV and AIDS have been around for many years, there is still some confusion about the facts surrounding them. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. With time, your immune system can clear most viruses out of your body, but that’s not the case with HIV. Since the human immune system can’t seem to get rid of this virus, when someone contracts it, they have it for life.

This virus attacks an essential part of the immune system – the T-cells or CD4 cells. Your body needs these cells to fight infections and disease. However, HIV invades these cells and uses them to make more copies of itself, then destroying them.

Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body no longer can fight infections and diseases. When this occurs, the virus can lead to AIDS, which is the final stage of HIV infection.

What is AIDS?

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, a.k.a. AIDS, is the more advanced stage of HIV when the immune systems cells drop to a very low level. At this stage, a person’s ability to fight infection is lost in addition to other conditions, called AIDS-defining illnesses.

How is HIV treated?

Not everyone that has HIV progresses to AIDS when proper treatment is involved, which is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART involves includes the use of medications that fight the HIV infection. If someone with HIV takes these medicines properly every day, they can live a long, healthy life while reducing the risk of transmitting the virus to others. In fact, if a person is diagnosed with HIV and treated before the disease becomes advanced, they can have a nearly normal life expectancy.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS. Research is ongoing to find one.

How is HIV Transmitted?

A person becomes infected with HIV when an infected person’s body fluids enter his or her blood stream. The most common ways people get HIV is through sharing a needle and having unprotected sex with an infected person. Pregnant women with HIV can transmit the virus to their babies during childbirth and through breast milk.

HIV cannot be spread through:

  • Casual contact
  • Saliva, sweat, tears, urine, or feces
  • Vaccines, including those made from blood products
  • Insects
  • Contact with common objects

Related Locations

eNewsletter Signup

Our eNewsletters from Crozer-Keystone Health System help keep you up-to-date on your health and well being. View recent editions or sign up to receive our free eNewsletters.