In November 1991, a popular American basketball player Magic Johnson stated in a press conference that he has contracted a disease. After the press conference, his career was as good as over. When they learnt Magic Johnson had contracted this disease, many players refused to play with him or even touch him. -And he had no option left but to retire. -Have to retire from the… What was this disease that ended a star basketball player’s career overnight? Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV. Or the more common name we know: AIDS. Hang on there. Don’t get scared. We have a lot of misconceptions about a lot of things. AIDS is one of them, and a very important one. Because of such misconceptions, patients suffering from AIDS have to face social stigma or AIDS-shaming, along with physical and psychological distress. The AIDS virus was discovered in the 1980s. The virus is called HIV. So, HIV is the virus that causes the disease called AIDS. According to the 2018 UNAIDS survey, 379 million people suffer from this disease. Out of them, 362 million are adults and 170 million are children. The first AIDS patient was recorded in USA in 1981. The first AIDS patient in India was found in Chennai in 1986. India has over 20 million AIDS patients. Compared to other nations, India took some firm steps towards raising awareness about AIDS from 2001. They also showed positive results. However, there is still not enough awareness regarding AIDS. What exactly does AIDS do? The CD4 cells in our body work to maintain our immunity. The HIV virus attacks these cells, raising the probability of contracting other diseases. HIV mainly spreads through unsafe sexual relations. Also, reusing syringes used for HIV patients without sterilizing them, blood or blood cells of an HIV patient getting mixed in with a healthy person’s blood can spread the virus, or a child may contract the virus from his pregnant HIV positive mother. Shaking hands with or hugging an HIV positive person does not cause the spread of this disease. Due to such misconceptions, HIV+ people face several difficulties again and again, and feel alone. Legal provisions have been made to accord these patients an equal status in the society. Mistreating or discriminating against them can earn you punishment. What are some common symptoms of AIDS? Weight loss without an apparent cause, fever and sweating, diarrhoea and swelling on lymph nodes. Primary diagnosis of HIV is done with the help of the ELISA test. Tests for HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases are offered for free by government hospitals. Govt hospitals also offer medicines and treatment for HIV for free. With the help of modern technology and medication, research aimed at enabling AIDS patients to live a normal life is constantly being carried out. This has made it possible to offer medicines and treatment at a low cost, and to prevent the disease from spreading to healthy individuals. HAART is one of such effective treatment methods. It reduces the viral load and increases the amount of CD4. This prolongs the patient’s life expectancy. The most important thing is that the taboo around AIDS should disappear. So, safe sex practices such as getting HIV and blood tests done before sexual relations or before marriage, and creating awareness about how it spreads through other media is extremely important. In 2003, an organization ran an unusual campaign called ‘Will Balbeer Pasha get AIDS?’ and attracted public attention back towards AIDS. And the discussion began again. A few years ago, bollywood artists had refused to participate in a similar campaign due to AIDS being a taboo. Shabana Azmi, however, did participate and said a crucial thing: “AIDS does not spread through touch.” “If anything can spread through touch, it is love.” Do let us know how you liked this video. Also tell us which other topics you would like us to present through these videos. Subscribe to Vishay Khol, follow us on Facebook and on Instagram. Share this information with as many people as you can. Thank you!