The importance of HIV testing was the predominant theme of this year’s World Aids Day. Despite surging rates of infection for certain age groups, great strides have been made all over the world in the detection, treatment, prevention and education on HIV and AIDS. The millennium developmental goal deadline for reversing the HIV/AIDS epidemic had been set for the end of 2015 but the goal had been attained way ahead of time. This and other successes in combating the HIV pandemic can be attribute to solid international solidarity and the efforts of organizations such as the WHO and the UN.
A set of new sustainable goals were endorsed at the last UN general assembly by world leaders. There is optimism that by the year 2030, the HIV scourge will be a thing of the past. In order to attain these goals emphasis has to be placed on early detection of the virus and embarking on the new, excellent HIV treatments as soon as possible. Getting people to know their HIV status is the biggest hurdle that healthcare professionals face. To make things easier and increase the number of people going for voluntary testing innovative testing approaches are being adopted. Health centres now largely advocate for self testing and community initiatives to boost numbers of people getting tested. Getting tested for HIV by post is also pretty convenient and reliable.
Further research results have indicated that people who embark on treatment soon after acquiring the deadly virus stay healthy throughout their lifetime and have the least likelihood of infecting their partners. This is simply because their immune system is not weakened by the virus and it can therefore defend itself keeping the viral load low. The official recommendation of WHO on the matter of treatment is that it should be rapid, focused and efficient.
Dating and hook up apps have now been identified as being the fuel behind a hidden epidemic when it comes to the AIDS scourge. They make it a lot easier for young people to meet and engage in risky sexual behaviour. Asia has been cited as the most affected region although virtually all parts of the world are at risk.
The other worrying trend is the age using these dating apps. Initially preferred by people in their late twenties and early thirties, the age of users is steadily dropping exposing even teenagers to situations of casual unprotected sex.
Smartphones and the internet now provide limitless sexual opportunities setting back the entire world several paces when it comes to the fight against AIDS. This is why apps are now being developed to try and reverse the adverse negative effects that the bad apps have caused. Some of the best apps this year have been highlighted and they include:
AIDS Info Glossary
Care for today
HIV risk calculator
Young people are at huge risk of getting infected if they are not already. This is across board with both sexes experiencing a marked increase in new infections. The other population that was highlighted during this year’s World Aids Day is men having sex with men. The transgender population, sex workers and people being exploited sexually as well as injecting drug users are others who run a high risk of getting infected.
Teenagers and other young people below the age of 20 are engaging in sexual activity right under their parents’ noses. This was a very important highlight this year and it has been identified as a contributing factor to new infections between the ages of 10-19. Highlighted by Al Jazeera, such young people will not get tested and if they do, will not seek treatment even if they know they are infected. The biggest reason for this is that they do not want to expose their sexual escapades. Stigma is still very present and this is putting punctures in the wheels of development when it comes to curbing HIV.
The general feeling during the World AIDS Day was that the sense of urgency that was there when the disease first struck has disappeared and in its place is a non-chalance that is truly hurting all the strides that have been made over the years. This sense of urgency needs to be restored not by scaring the masses but by educating the general public on the true effects this disease has on populations especially the young. If the millennium goals for 2030 are to become a reality, and it is possible, then a lot more has to be one especially in the way of awareness creation.
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