Is a cure for AIDS a good thing? Someone asked recently.

It almost seems like a rhetoric question and that as long as no cure or vaccine has been found, it will always be a feared disease. Whenever the topic of HIV/AIDS is brought up, it’s often hushed away because most people think that it is a taboo and should not even be discussed in the open. Sadly, that’s how misconceptions are formed and this begets fear which in turn begets discrimination.

So, what really is HIV? And what is AIDS?

Most people have a tendency to think that HIV = AIDS. This can’t be further from the truth. In layman’s term, HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is the particle that gets transmitted into your body typically through direct open (wound) contact with blood of an infected person. This means HIV can be transmitted through the sharing of needles, direct transfusion of blood from an infected person, or through sexual contact, which sometimes result in minute tissue tears which becomes the entrance for the viral particles.

AIDS, on the other hand, is the consequence where the person’s immune system gets compromised and is unable to defend the body of other infections. HIV, which affects the immunity of the infected person, often results in AIDS, but it is possible that an HIV-infected person may never get full-blown AIDS if he keeps his body in check. Therefore, it can still be possible for an HIV-infected person to still lead a normal life like everyone else.

While reported cases of AIDS or HIV infection arose from sexual contact, there are also various means of acquiring the disease, such as through open wound contact with blood of an infected person. Although there had been very little reports on incidences of HIV due to the latter, this can be a very real risk in countries where the level of hygiene isn’t very high. As a result, people end up getting HIV infection through reuse or sharing of needles, which is not just limited to drug abusers, but also to patients who had to receive blood transfusion. This is indeed very sad.

While there is very little that we can do to change the perception of others, we can take a first step by understanding the causes and spread of HIV ourselves. So with this, I am going to burst the first myth of the day (which was in part made popular because of the recent Section 377A brouhaha):

HIV and AIDS affects only gay men and drug users

The truth is, it affects everyone, including you and me; which means that anyone can get HIV as long as any of their sexual partners have HIV. Sadly, many people still throw caution in the air when faced with temptations; thinking that “it can never happen to me since I have never struck 4D or Toto* in my life”.

Thankfully, some people are working towards the spread of such awareness that we are ultimately responsible for our lives. At the same time, there’s also been more spread of love (and forgiveness) towards people who have unfortunately acquired the disease.

This year’s theme is hence aptly named “Your life, your canvas”. If you would like to show your support for this cause, please join in the Twibbon Campaign and add a red ribbon to your Twitter Pic ๐Ÿ™‚ And oh, when you support the campaign, do click on “Allow” instead of pressing the [ENTER] key because the default is “Deny” ๐Ÿ™

Argh. The ribbon is choking me… *cough cough*

Kidding. But seriously, please, do show your support for the campaign, because it’s not only about showing your commitment to awareness, but also showing your support for people who have unfortunately acquired the disease and for them to move on bravely.

And meanwhile… have I told you what we have installed for commemorating World AIDS Day in Singapore? More coming up after the break… ๐Ÿ™‚

This is a pro bono article for the awareness of AIDS, which is supported by the Health Promotion Board. Go on and show your support by just adding that cute little twittibon on your profile pic! ๐Ÿ™‚

* 4D and Toto are lotteries that are conducted by the Singapore Pools on a twice/thrice weekly basis respectively

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