Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, No escape from reality. The great Bohemian Rhapsody. Freddie Mercury was great, a flamboyant stage persona packing a four-octave vocal range. Freddie was a king in his own right. Sadly Freddie passed at age 45 due to complications from AIDS. Although times have changed, the HIV pandemic still rages. For those of you who are seeking to understand HIV better, this blog aims to educate you on the origin of the disease, the development of treatment and the mode of transmission.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), is a type of retrovirus that infects the cells vital to the functionality of the immune system. If not treated, HIV can be devastating, where in approximately 5-10 years, HIV progresses into the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). At this point, the immune system shuts down, and carriers are more susceptible to opportunistic infections and cancer. To date, HIV/AIDS remains one of the largest pandemics in the world, with an estimated infected population of 2,900 people in New Zealand.
The earliest case of HIV in a blood sample was found in a man from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Researchers believe that the initial mode of transmission was zoonotic, where HIV was transmitted from a chimpanzee to a human. Not through sex, but through bushmeat trading. In 1931, while hunting chimpanzees, it is believed that humans encountered HIV infected animal blood, launching the pandemic. From the 1900’s, HIV continued to spread, in 1968, the earliest case of AIDS appeared in the Midwest and in 1984, the HIV/AIDs epidemic started in the United States.
By 1985, complications from AIDS was believed to be one of the leading causes of death for adults aged 25 to 44 years old. This was a massive cause for concern, where AIDS patients had grown so desperate that they resorted to bootlegged underground therapies. In March 1987, AZT was released and made available for prescription. At first, AZT was thought to be a godsend but later realised to do more bad than good, as a pharmaceutical money maker, that was expensive, toxic and controversial.
By 1997, highly active antiretroviral therapy became the new treatment, leading to a 47 percent decline in death rates. Now, we have various drugs that are used in combination to treat HIV/AIDS, among which includes Abacavir, Efavirenz and Darunavir. Although the treatment doesn’t provide a cure, it allows control over the virus, enabling carriers to live full lives!
So, most of us know that these infections are commonly transmitted through exchange of semen, vaginal discharge and blood. The same goes for HIV! So, what can you do to stay safe?
Wear protection! Get prescribed prophylactics if you are engaging in risky behaviour (prophylactics reduce chances of contracting HIV, like the pill for pregnancy)! Most importantly get tested on the regular!
Let’s work together and stop HIV in its tracks!
Did you know that many STI's don't have symptoms? If left untreated they can seriously damage your fertility, health and life.
If you’re unsure what to do or if you’re worried about an STI, we’re here to help with safe and easy tests you can do at home.
Don’t risk your health!
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