Q
What are HIV and AIDS?
A

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is the late stage of infection with human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV). AIDS can take more than 8-10 years to develop after infection with HIV. HIV-infected people can live symptom-free lives for years; however most people in developing countries die within three years of being diagnosed with AIDS.

Q
How do people get infected with HIV?
A

HIV is transmitted mostly through semen and vaginal fluids during unprotected sex without the use of condoms. Globally, most cases of sexual transmission involve men and women, although, in some developed countries homosexual activity remains the primary mode. Besides sexual intercourse, HIV can also be transmitted during drug injection by the sharing of needles contaminated with infected blood; by the transfusion, of infected blood or blood products; and from an infected woman to her baby - before birth, during birth or just after delivery.

HIV is not spread through ordinary social contact; for example by shaking hands, travelling in the same bus, eating from the same utensils, by hugging or kissing. Mosquitoes and insects do not spread the virus nor is it water-borne or air-borne.

Q
How many people are affected with HIV?
A

According to UNAIDS estimates, by end-2001 nearly 60 million people have been infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic. At the end of 2001, an estimated 40 million people globally were living with HIV . Every day, more than 12000 adults ( 50% of them are women & 50% are between 15-24 Years of age ) are infected . Every day , more than 2000 children below 15 years of age are infected. People newly infected with HIV during 2001 is 5 million.

Q
Does AIDS also affect our region?
A

Of the 40 million adults & children with HIV infection - the global estimate in end-2001 - 28.1 million were in Sub-Saharan Africa and more than 6.1 million in Asia.
Our region, that is South Asia, is likely to suffer the brunt of the pandemic - being home to over half the world's population. Moreover, HIV/AIDS is now present in every continent and in every region of the world.

Q
Why is the AIDS epidemic considered so serious?
A

AIDS affects people primarily when they are most productive and leads to premature death thereby severely affecting the socio-economic structure of whole families, communities and countries. Besides, AIDS is not curable and since HIV is transmitted predominantly through sexual contact, and with sexual practices being essentially a private domain, these issues are difficult to address.

 
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