HIV/AIDs Awareness Month

What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It's a virus that spreads through bodily fluids that affects specific cells of the immune system, called CD4 cells, or T cells. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. When this happens, HIV infection leads to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

HIV disease continues to be a serious health issue for parts of the world. Worldwide, there were about 2 million new cases of HIV in 2014. About 36.9 million people are living with HIV around the world, and as of March 2015, around 15 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART). An estimated 1.2 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2014, and about 39 million people worldwide have died of AIDS-related causes since the epidemic began. Seventy percent of all people living with HIV in 2014 were living in Sub-Saharan Africa, which bears the heaviest burden of HIV/AIDS worldwide. Other regions significantly affected by HIV/AIDS include Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

For more information: www.aids.gov/ & www.cdc.gov/hiv/
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Stages of HIV

1. Acute Infection: Development of large amounts of HIV are produced in the body and induce flu-like symptoms. The amount of CD4 cells are attacked and decrease in numbers.
2. Clinical Latency: HIV is produced at low levels. This stage can last up to a decade and HIV can still be transmitted to others during this stage. Immune system may weaken and CD4 cell count will also drop.
3. AIDS: The immune system is more vulnerable to infections. When the number of CD4 cells falls below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (200 cells/mm3), it is considered to have progressed to AIDS.
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Why Red?

After the emergence of HIV, a symbol was created to represent people living with HIV. Red was chosen as it is bold and visible – symbolizing passion, a heart and love. The shape was chosen simply because it was easy to make and replicate – anyone can make one by just cutting out a piece of ribbon, looping it around your finger and pinning it on themselves. The red ribbon continues to be a powerful force in the efforts to increase public awareness of HIV.