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8 Surprising Facts About HIV Everyone Should Know

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 29 November 2022, Updated on - 24 January 2023

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Having been recognised for only around 30 years, HIV or AIDS are still a relatively new public health concern. It was in 1981 that the first case of this new illness was reported by doctors in New York and Los Angeles. Since then, researchers and scientists have made huge progress in gaining a deeper understanding of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and its underlying cause, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

However, despite this progress, a vast majority of people still have a myriad of misconceptions about HIV/AIDS, fuelling fear and stigma. It’s essential to generate awareness about HIV to curb its spread and ensure proper medical care for those who suffer from it. Here are 8 interesting facts about HIV that you may not know but should find out. 

1. Anyone Can Get HIV

When it was first discovered, HIV/AIDS was widely believed to be an illness that only affected homosexuals. However, it was analysed with the time that people can get the virus through heterosexual sex (sexual intercourse between opposite genders) as well. It was also found that drug use via injection is a huge factor responsible for HIV transmission.

2. HIV is Still Quite Prevalent

Since it was discovered, nearly 30 million people around the world have died from HIV/AIDS. According to a report by the UN, around 650,000 people died globally due to AIDS-related diseases in 2021 alone. Even today, over 35 million people are living with HIV worldwide.

3. Demographics Play a Role 

HIV is one of the leading causes of death in low-income countries. While Africa has the highest rate of HIV infections, other parts of the world including regions in Eastern European, Asia, and Latin America have also witnessed a rise in infections. Around 70% of those suffering from HIV and 91% of HIV-positive children live in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the data collected by the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO), in 2017, roughly 2.14 million people were living with HIV/AIDS in India.

4. People Can Have HIV Without Knowing it

Around one in eight people suffering from HIV don’t know about their condition. Around a month after getting infected with HIV, some people develop flu-like symptoms like fever, fatigue, headache, joint pain, muscle ache, and sore throat. These symptoms often disappear in a few weeks, after which they can go years before feeling ill. In some cases, people don’t experience any symptoms at all during the early stage and they can spread the infection without even realising it. 

5. It Came from Chimps

HIV originated from Simian Immunodeficiency Viruses (SIVs), which are found in monkeys and chimpanzees. It’s believed that human hunters were the cause of these viruses infecting humans. By eating the meat of apes and monkeys, hunters allowed SIV to enter humans and mutate into HIV. 

6. There are Two Strains of HIV

There are two strains of HIV; HIV-1, which originated from central common chimpanzees and HIV-2, which originated from sooty mangabey monkeys. HIV-1 is more easily transmitted, dangerous, and the cause of a major chunk of HIV infections worldwide. On the other hand, HIV-2 is more difficult to transmit and is primarily prevalent in West Africa. 

7. HIV Patients Can Live a Healthy Life

For quite a while after it was discovered, HIV was nothing short of a death sentence. However, over the last two-three decades, scientists have come up with a regimen of drugs called antiretroviral therapy (ART), which helps lower the viral load of the patients and strengthens their immune systems. Easy access to this drug regimen has allowed HIV-positive people to lead healthy, near-normal lives.

8. Prevention Has Come a Long Way

Due to the prevention and screening measures becoming more accessible, the rate of new HIV infections is dropping constantly. Since HIV is transmitted by the exchange of bodily fluids like semen and blood, the most effective way of keeping the infection away is by practising safer sex and avoiding the use of shared drug paraphernalia like needles. There have also been great strides in the development of a vaccine.

It has become essential to focus on education and awareness about HIV/AIDS. Lots of people are still not up-to-date about this issue and are unaware of preventive tools and treatments. It’s important to spread awareness of just how easily and quickly one can check their HIV status and take the steps necessary for managing it. For expert advice,

Consult An Apollo Specialist

 

Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.

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