Numbers to be Thankful for on World AIDS Day
Since the first cases of AIDS were detected in the USA, in 1981, the disease has been subject to stigma and fear. Even now, around 100,000 are living with HIV in the UK, while 36.9 million people across the world live with the virus. Of these, 1.2 million people died of AIDS related complications in 2014.
However, having HIV in 2015 can be a different story. Thanks to pioneering science and dedicated campaigns and earlier diagnosis, HIV sufferers can now live full, healthy lives with the virus under control. In honour of World AIDS Day 2015, taking place on December 1st, here are some inspiring numbers to be thankful for.
0.5 per cent
The number of UK people diagnosed with HIV that, sadly died during 2013.
Although the number of people with HIV is increasing, this dramatically falling mortality rate offers a beacon of hope. Advances in testing and treatments mean that, while sufferers are not completely cured of HIV, the virus can be managed so effectively that they can live long and healthy lives.
The average life expectancy of a HIV sufferer taking anti-retroviral treatment successfully. This is no different to the average life expectancy of the general population.
This graph, featured by the BBC, illustrates just how far we have progressed over the past 30 years, with both death and further AIDS diagnoses dropping far below the number of cases of HIV.
How quickly you can receive results from a HIV test. Some tests can take 20-30 minutes, while others can take a number of weeks – it all depends on how patients are tested, and when they were infected. Blood tests, which look for the antigens and antibodies associated with HIV, can take up to 12 weeks to produce results, purely because this is how long it can take for the tell-tale antibodies to appear in the blood. Patients can now even opt for a less-invasive saliva test. As with the blood test, it can take up to several week longer after you have been infected with HIV for the virus to show up in saliva.
The amount of money raised by the Terrence Higgins Trust in 2013/2014. This incredible sum went into new campaigns, help and support for people living with HIV, the diagnosis and treatment of HIV, and the improvement of sexual health services in the UK.
The year in which the Equality Act first made it illegal to discriminate against somebody living with HIV or AIDS in the workplace. The Equality Act 2010 also prohibited pre-employment health questionnaires prior to a job offer being made.
The number of anti-HIV drugs now available on the market, in six ‘classes’ of drug. Each class works in a different way, with sufferers usually being placed on a combination of the drugs to suit their individual lifestyle and health needs. Treatment is no longer a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
You can’t deny that these facts and figures are cause for hope, but at the same time, there is still a long way to go in the fight against HIV and AIDS. A quarter of people with HIV don’t know they’re infected, and the later they receive treatment, the more severe their condition will become.
Late diagnosis is one of the biggest contributors to dying from HIV, stressing just how important it is to know the signs. This World AIDS Day, why not spread the message, and wear a red ribbon to spark a conversation?
This article was first published on 1st December 2015.