World AIDS Day: Why you should know your HIV status?

HIV testing is important to know your status, for expanding treatment and ensuring that all people with HIV can lead a healthy and productive life

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New Delhi: As the official month of AIDS Awareness begins, it is the right moment for everyone to take a pause and visit their nearby diagnostic center to ensure their good health. World AIDS Day is marking its 30th anniversary on this 1 December and is themed on “Know Your Status”.

HIV testing is important to know your status, for expanding treatment and ensuring that all people with HIV can lead a healthy and productive life. The idea is to empower people to protect themselves and their loved ones. However, the deterrent here is that there is a lot of stigma and discrimination regarding an HIV test. People are mostly concerned about confidential HIV testing. They get tested themselves tested only after becoming ill or experiencing its symptoms.

To combat HIV/AIDS and prevent it from becoming an epidemic, the campaigns all over the world are centering on this theme of Know Your Status and the importance of early detection. The masses are being encouraged to know their status through HIV Testing and debunking the taboos associated with it. After all, researching online on the symptoms and treatment of HIV/AIDS can’t confirm and cure the disease, but the early screening will surely do!

In India, the prevalence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is registered as 0.22% in 2017 whereas the deaths due to AIDS-related issues is estimated around 69.11 (29.94 –140.84) thousands, as per the data of National Aids Control Organization. Though there has been a decline in the deaths due to AIDS, almost 2.1 million people are still living the life of humiliation and embarrassment with HIV/AIDS, data reveals.

It was in 1986 when the first few cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in India. From having no sufficient treatment facilities back then, India has come a long way today with well-equipped diagnostic centres and hospitals for treatment and care for the patients of HIV/AIDS which helped in controlling the widespread ailment. However, India still misses the mark to minimize HIV risks and treat the people suffering from it. The lack of awareness about HIV/AIDS and the stigma and taboos attached to this sexually-transmitted disease prevents the sufferers to come forward and ask for quality treatment services at the right time.

But as we know, knowledge is power and awareness is life! If people are not aware what exactly is HIV and AIDS, the symptoms, the means of spread, and the prevention and treatment services, the stigma and discrimination will only propagate and continue to take hundreds of lives. The fear of being discriminated and rejected restrains people from taking HIV/AIDS test. It’s the high time that all people, whether they see the symptoms or not, should overcome such barriers and opt for confidential HIV testing and screening.

And, undoubtedly, many healthcare and diagnostic centres are taking the initiatives to curb the stigma of HIV/AIDS by creating awareness among their visitors. In fact, various diagnostic centres offer a series of confidential and secure HIV tests helping people to know their HIV status and get the proper treatment at the right time and restore a healthy and productive life.

The good news is that that HIV testing can be done through self-testing, multi-disease testing and community-based testing. Nonetheless, HIV testing programmes still need to be expanded with the help of political will and more investment.

Highlighting the importance of HIV testing, Dr Ravi Gaur, the Chief Operating Officer, Oncquest Laboratories, said, “Early detection of the HIV/AIDS can save hundreds of life because when a person knows his status, he will not transmit the virus . That is, one life saves another and this chain continues. Therefore, undergoing HIV testing on this World AIDS Day is itself the prevention and cure for all.This World AIDS Day, let’s work towards raising awareness about the importance of knowing your status and end all stigmas related to HIV testing.Happy World AIDS Dayto  everyone.”


*Note: This news piece is based on a press release.