Support fight against a cruel epidemic that still has no vaccine

(Source: https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/asia-pacific/india)

WITH over 2.1 million infected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which causes AIDS, India is home to the third largest population of HIV positive people in the world. Latest figures show nearly 88,000 people were newly infected with HIV in 2017. Among them men accounted for 50,000 new infections, 34,000 women and around 3,700 children (aged 0-14 years) were infected.

HIV/AIDS and its causes

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a range of health conditions caused by an infection with the HIV. As many of us know, this virus spreads primarily through unprotected sex (including anal and oral sex), hypodermic needles, from a pregnant mother to her child and contaminated blood transfusions. Body fluids, such as sweat, saliva, and tears do not transmit the virus.

An HIV infected person either experiences an influenza-like infection initially or not have any symptoms at all in the beginning. It is only when the infection progresses that it affects the immune system and increases the risk of developing bacterial, viral and fungal infections, including tuberculosis and tumors, a rarity in those with a healthy immune function.

So far there is no cure or vaccine for AIDS. However, early diagnosis and antiretroviral treatment (ART) is known to slow the course of the disease and help the infected person lead a near-normal life. Without treatment, the average survival duration of an AIDS patient is 11 years.

Containing the virus and its stigma
In India, National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) is the body that formulates policies and implements programmes for the prevention and control of the HIV epidemic. To reduce new HIV infections, NACO has identified high risk group, such as sex workers, truck drivers, drug addicts, transgender people and migrant workers, and facilitates peer-to-peer HIV intervention programmes.

Issues such as HIV-related stigma and discrimination discourage the infected people from accessing healthcare. For example, a study in north Karnataka found 90% of female sex workers had witnessed stigma. The fear of verbal abuse, neglect and isolation prevented them from disclosing their HIV positive status to others, and thus putting more people at risk.

5 NGOs working on AIDS  

This World AIDS Day (December 1), pledge to raise awareness and prevent the spread of this life altering disease. You can donate to any of these NGOs and help them continue their stellar work in against HIV/AIDS:

1. The Humsafar Trust (HST) works with community based organisations in 27 Indian states on HIV prevention, treatment, care and support and advocacy for LGBTQ rights. The activities include sensitisation and awareness of employers, educational institutes, law enforcement agencies, and government bodies.

2. The Naz Foundation (India) Trust is a Delhi-based organisation working in the areas of health, gender and rights. Through the years, they have worked on programmes to combat HIV through prevention and care, reduce stigma, improve health, and empower families. Naz also has a Care Home for the Children Living with HIV and currently looks after 19 children. It takes care of their educational, medical, nutritional and psychological requirements.

3. Mahesh Foundation is an NGO working to improve the lives of HIV/AIDS affected children by providing shelter and care to orphans and other patients in their struggle against the disease.

4. India HIV/AIDS Alliance works in partnership with the society, government and communities to support and sustain responses to HIV in India. They build capacity, provide technical support and advocacy to strengthen community-based HIV programmes to vulnerable groups.

5. Neptune Foundation runs nutrition camps, supplies rations to families with HIV positive members and helps them enroll in various government schemes. Currently they support 46 beneficiaries with monthly ration kits, nutrition powder and medicines.

With your support these organisations can reach out to more people who need our help. A small contribution from you could be life changing for someone. Support our initiative for people suffering from AIDS. Donate now.

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