World AIDS Day being observed today
According to the United Nations, 36.7 million people globally are living with HIV while 1.8 million people became newly infected with HIV last year.
The report said one million people have also died of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)-related illnesses during last year.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells in the immune system, which is our body’s natural defence against illness. The virus destroys a type of white blood cell in the immune system called a T-helper cell, and makes copies of itself inside these cells. T-helper cells are also referred to as CD4 cells.
As HIV destroys more CD4 cells and makes more copies of itself, it gradually weakens a person’s immune system. This means that someone who has HIV, and isn’t taking antiretroviral treatment, will find it harder and harder to fight off infections and diseases.
AIDS is the most advanced stage of infection.
In his message on the occasion, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said there is still time to scale-up testing for HIV to enable more people to access treatment to increase resources needed to prevent new infections and to end the stigma.
The UN Secretary General said at this critical juncture, we need to take the right turn now.