Friday, 2 December 2016

World Aids Day 2016: Press Release by NMA AKS

Today, the 1st of December 2016 is World AIDS Day. It’s a day set aside to create and sustain the awareness on the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which had caused an estimated 39milion deaths worldwide as at 2014.In 2015 about 36.7 million people were living with HIV and it resulted in 1.1 million deaths. Most of those infected live in sub-Saharan Africa. HIV/AIDS is considered a pandemic—a disease outbreak which is present over a large area and is actively spreading.

HIV is believed to have originated in west-central Africa during the late 19th or early 20th century. AIDS was first recognized by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in June 1981 in New York and California in USA amongst a group of previously healthy homosexuals. Its cause—HIV infection—was identified in the early part of the decade.
Nigeria’s first case of HIV/AIDS was reported in 1986, with the diagnosis of a 13 year old female hawker. Since then, the prevalence had increased from 1.8% in 1990 to 5.8% in 2001. Luckily, recent data shows that as at 2014, the prevalence had dropped to 3.0% nationwide.
In Akwa Ibom State, the prevalence has dropped from 12.0 % in 2012 to 10.8% in 2014. Though this shows a reduction in the number of people living with HIV/AIDs in the state, Akwa Ibom State still ranks as the 2nd state with the highest prevalence in the country.
The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Hands up for HIV prevention’.  HIV stands for Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus which causes AIDS- Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome. There are at least two major types (Type I and II). The virus is usually found in blood, and other body fluids and secretions.

It could be transmitted through the following means:
*Unprotected sexual intercourse
*From an infected mother to an unborn child
*Sharing of sharp objects and skin piercing instruments
*Transfusion of unscreened blood.
After one is infected, he or she could still have some years of healthy and productive living before one becomes very ill which could be classified into 4 different stages;
1.The window period (6-12 weeks)
2.The symptom free stage (3-10 years)
3.The Symptom stage ( up to 3-4years)
4.The Full blown AIDS (1-2 years)

Whereas a Person Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWA) can’t be identified by mere physical appearance, like they say ‘AIDS no dey show for face’, the World Health Organization(WHO) first proposed a definition for AIDS in 1986. Since then, the WHO classification has been updated and expanded several times, with the most recent version being published in 2007.
The WHO system uses the following categories:
*Primary HIV infection: May be either asymptomatic or associated with acute retroviral syndrome.
*Stage I: HIV infection is asymptomatic with a CD4+ T cell count (also known as CD4 count) greater than 500 per microlitre (µl or cubic mm) of blood. May include generalized lymph node enlargement.

*Stage II: Mild symptoms which may include minor mucocutaneous manifestations and recurrent upper respiratory tract infections. A CD4 count of less than 500/µl. 

*Stage III: Advanced symptoms which may include unexplained chronic diarrhea for longer than a month, severe bacterial infections including tuberculosis of the lung, and a CD4 count of less than 350/µl. 

*Stage IV or AIDS: severe symptoms which include toxoplasmosis of the brain, candidiasis  of the esophagus, trachea, bronchi or lungs and Kaposi's sarcoma. A CD4 count of less than 200/µl.
A laboratory test is needed to confirm a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS and luckily for us, different centers in the State provide these services. The earlier the diagnosis, the greater the chances of survival as Anti-retroviral drugs could be administered to reduce the viral load and also improve the quality of life.
Therefore all hands must be on deck to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria as a whole through positive behavioural changes and stoppage of harmful traditional practices,  because, PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.

Dr Aniekeme Uwah (JP)
NMA, Akwa Ibom  State Branch and South- South Caucus.

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