A Battle against AIDS
AIDS is a very dangerous disease and none knows as to when it will throw us headlong into the abyss. It is spreading very fast in our country. The estimate of HIV cases in India was 5.1 million upto December 2004, as per the statistics taken by World Health Organisation during 2004-2005.
It is necessary to know about AIDS and HIV. There are people both in literate and illiterate society, who are not aware about this disease. They do not know the cause of it. In fact, AIDS is not a single disease by itself, but a combination of infections. When the AIDS virus or HIV enters the human body, it begins to attack the body’s natural defence system. Every person has anti-bodies in his body, which fight and defeat specific invading -infections like cold, influenza, malaria, etc. When the AIDS virus enters the body, it defeats the antibodies and eventually destroys the human immune system. It may take five years to ten years for an HIV positive to develop AIDS. Once the immune system is destroyed, the body falls prey to any infection. None is safe from AIDS. It can happen to anybody and there is no cure for it. The only way to save ourselves from AIDS is through knowledge and prevention.
The AIDS virus gets transmitted from one person to another only through the exchange of body fluids and there are three ways by which body fluid can be exchanged. The first is through unprotected sex. Sex without condom with an infected person is a high-risk activity. The second is through contaminated blood. A person may be inadvertently given a transfusion of HIV infected blood or blood products. So one has to make sure that every bit of blood that is used has been screened for AIDS virus and is declared HIV negative. And third is through sharing infected needles which used on one person are used on another without proper sterilization. If the user is infected with HIV, then minute bits of blood containing the virus can be transmitted to the next user.
A care is necessary by sterilizing the syringe with bleach solution. The safest thing is to use only one disposable syringe and needle. There are the cases in which AIDS virus have been transmitted through an infected mother to her unborn child or during breast-feeding. If the blood report of such newly born baby is HIV negative the breast-feeding can be avoided.
Deep-seated ignorance about AIDS and its transmission has resulted in the isolation and neglect of AIDS patients. General awareness level of the people is to be improved so that they can take adequate preventive measures and can fight against the transmission if any first AIDS case is noticed in the area. Few years ago people even the staff in hospitals were refusing to deal with the AIDS affected persons due to fear in the absence of general awareness about AIDS. The neighbours and landlords were asking the patients of AIDS to leave the place. But the position is different now. There is an awareness that AIDS is transmitted only through blood transfusion, recycling syringes, multiple use of shaving razors, and illicit sex. Any contact with the patient, where the exchange of body fluid or transfusion of blood between the two is not involved, can not be the cause of transmission of the disease.
Since there is still no cure or vaccine for AIDS, education and awareness generation are most reliable methods of prevention. Awareness is also required to fight the stigma and social ostracism arising out of ignorance regarding the spread of AIDS. The media, social workers, students, youth, corporate sector and community based organisations can play more effectively in anti AIDS pro-grammes.
Education can bring a change in the trend of general masses to avoid discrimination against AIDS patient. If we take the example of highly literate state like Kerala, we find that there is awareness among the literate people who know the causes of transmission of HIV/AIDS. General awareness levels of the people have improved considerably from the hysteria generated when the first AIDS case was reported in the state in 1987. The people of the state by virtue of education and awareness are able to fight against AIDS. Kerala is the state were HIV/AIDS patients are not segregated during treatment at hospital. The children suffering from AIDS are not being denied admission in schools because of greater awareness among the people. The similar atmosphere can be created in other parts of the country through education and awareness.
The situation varies from state to state. The cases of AIDS in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and a few other states of North-East are more in number. The government and NGOs have to mobilize public opinion to combat AIDS vigorously particularly in these states, where percentage rates of HIV/AIDS cases are greater. This being a dreaded disease needs special attention to educate the people more so that they become able to know the consequence after suffering from AIDS. The people who are well aware about the cause will be careful to adopt preventive measures against HIV/AIDS.
The majority of the people in India is not aware about financial assistance which is extended for preventing and treating AIDS, TB and Malaria. This message is to be spread over throughout the country for enabling people to make good use of it.
The government of India should bring a law to empower either partner to insist on the other undergoing an HIV/AIDS test and produce a certificate before the marriage. The law also needs to prohibit a person infected with HIV or AIDS from donating blood to a blood bank or hospital.
A country like India, where the cases of HIV and AIDS are increasing day-by-day, has to fight battle on all fronts to curb this dangerous disease.
The cases of HIV and AIDS are on the increase in our country in the absence of general awareness about the infection. It is the boom time to introduce this subject in the education system for enabling people to know right from their childhood about the causes of this dreaded disease as well as preventive measures for fighting against it.