Since the early break of HIV as the world’s most fierce and feared predator, it was accompanied by various misconceptions; one of which is regarding sexual intercourse as the only route for infection. But the truth of the matter is that the HIV virus is transmitted through the direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a bodily fluid containing HIV, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-seminal fluid, and breast milk. This transmission can involve anal, vaginal or oral sex, blood transfusion, contaminated hypodermic needles, exchange between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding, or other exposures to one of the above bodily fluids. Thus it’s needless to point out the contribution of ignorance in the current situation, but we can improve by properly identifying AIDS.
So what is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. The condition involves a set of symptoms and infections resulting from the damage to the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The virus progressively reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and leaves individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections and tumors which mean that no one dies out of HIV per say but they become like an open house with every organism invited in to wonder as may.
In addition to the previously mentioned concerns, the quest for a definite defeat for the HIV is still on which makes AIDS a pandemic, as according to the latest statistics covering the entire 2007 year, an estimated 33.2 million people lived with the disease worldwide, and it killed an estimated 2.1 million people.
Giving that awareness and prevention is all what we have to hope for, risk factors had to be measured and assessed in each and every country around the world. Regarding Egypt we have all the signs indicating a much feared break, including:
2. poverty (20% of population under poverty line)
3. Continuous presence of illiteracy in the general population (38%) especially among women
4. A weak health system despite huge infrastructure.
Marking HIV as a rising concern in Egypt where more organizations are willing to address issues related to risks.
The stance to “Stop AIDS”:
Since 2004, UNAIDS has been coordinating multi-organizations efforts to commemorate World AIDS Day. The World AIDS Campaign is the largest public advocacy event organized every year to highlight key issues related to HIV and AIDS.
The World AIDS Campaign (WAC) 2008 in Egypt is carried by several organizations from national public, and civil society in collaboration with international organizations- coordinated by UNAIDS. The overall theme of the campaign is “Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise” with a local slogan of “Stand by Us”.
Over the last two years the WAC has worked hard at raising awareness and combating stigma. “Stop AIDS. Keep promise” is alluding to the promise that governments all over the world made to stop AIDS.
1. Advocate among decision makers and especially health professionals for improved access to quality care, support, and treatment for People Living with HIV (PLHIV)
2. Highlight individual action at the community level related to the HIV response including prevention, assessing services and combating stigma and discrimination related to HIV and AIDS.
WAC planned activities for raising awareness:
WAC Cycling Marathon and Youth Event (Public Free Entry)
Aim: tackle stigma and discrimination by raising awareness and humanizing HIV and AIDS.
Description: An event where people will rally around while promoting HIV and AIDS awareness. A group of 50 cyclers will traverse the city in the down town area in World AIDS Campaign (WAC) gear to disseminate information.
Sailing the Nile Caravan in Beni Suef. (Public Free Entry)
Aim: To promote Millennium Development Goal n. 6 (“Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases”) through Sailing the Nile.
HIV/AIDS Forum for Health Administrators (Limited Access)
Aim: Action for improving medical care and follow up at service delivery level
Description: The forum will invite health administrators’ from public, university and private hospitals. The forum will highlight the challenges faced by PLHIV, tackling stigma in the health care system and the gaps in HIV and AIDS services and makes recommendations for improvement.
National Conference on HIV and AIDS for Medical Schools at Bibliotheca Alexandria (Limited Access)
Aim: Action for including HIV and AIDS in the medical school curriculum.
Description: The conference will expand into a higher advocacy initiative engaging deans of medical schools, professors and students under the auspices of Minister of Higher Education.