When I first came to know about HIV/AIDS, I could relate it to nothing but genocide. Nothing much has changed over the years, my point of view is somewhat the same till date. I mean what can possibly be said about a disease where patients kill patients?

Until and unless we grasp that AIDS is our problem, we will be blind to the steps we need to take to protect ourselves and others against it

Kofi Anan,
Former Secretary General of United Nations

1981 was the year which officially marked the birth of a pandemic called HIV/AIDS. A disease spread from four men in California. They suddenly began to develop rare infections and cancers that seemed stubbornly resistant to any treatment. At that time, AIDS did not yet have a name, but it quickly became obvious that all the men were suffering from a common syndrome.

From FOUR people to over 36 million in just three decades! How did this happen?  What we were doing when this happened?

I once heard from a very wise man that human brain is only prepared for short term changes, which is why they react to heat, thunder and cut; for long term we need Robots. This is certainly true, because if we knew HIV would turn out to hit 36 million people globally, we could have done something to stop it during the early phase.

Few preventive drugs were introduced in the following years that kept the HIV virus attenuated partly in the body. These drugs prevent the immune system from further weakening and allowed it to recover from any damage that HIV might have caused already.

Sex education and HIV prevention should be taught with importance in schools and colleges

But no break through medical discovery has been made yet to fight with this amount of terror. We cannot fight the battle, but sure can prevent it from spreading. Awareness is the main weapon of choice we have here. If proper education system is placed to fight with HIV/AIDS, then more people will be aware and we can surely take it down to ZERO.

Every year, 1st December is observed as World AIDS Day. The theme of the day for this year was ‘Getting to Zero’ (Zero New HIV infection, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS-related death). But reaching this number – ZERO – is going to be hard without awareness. Every single person on this planet needs to be sensitise on the mere detail of HIV/AIDS transmission and what measures of precaution should be taken.

What can I possibly say that has not been said earlier, what can I possibly write that has not been written before? It is only the matter of acceptance; admitting the fact that HIV can also affect me or  my friend. Perceiving that it is a disease we all need to be properly educated on. Accepting my friend who is HIV positive, so he or she can live a life like any other normal person.

I assume, back in the day, people were ashamed of even getting a HIV test done, let alone the treatment itself. Thus giving a rise to this massive number of HIV positive patients. This could be one of the reasons that the disease spread to this extent. Even now people think it cannot happen to oneself because it is sexually transmitted. But the HIV virus does not spread only through intercourse; there are three other medium – blood transfusion, multiple injectors of drugs with one syringe, and through HIV positive mothers during childbirth or breastfeeding. Most people are not even aware for years of being HIV positive. It is after their immune system starts to get weak, they show signs of having AIDS.

I have always thought that having an HIV test done annually is something that should be made mandatory by every government for the general public. This could be a good start for an awareness campaign. In colleges and schools, sex education and prevention of HIV should be a prime subject of discussion since the age group of HIV positive starts from 15. When people will break out of social norm and discuss it openly, only then we can reach a solution.  

Things that come to our mind when we think about AIDS are ‘Virus, Judgment, Blood, Drug, Injection, Abstinence and Pregnancy’ which actually are meagre among the concerns. But it is an era when AIDS discourse should be associated with ‘Protection, Prevention, Self esteem, Responsibility and NO’.

We may have concentrated on the symptom of the disease so much that we forgot about the cause of it. So if only, we know how HIV/AIDS becomes a part of an individual’s life, we can stop that from happening to us.