WORLD AIDS DAY: 1st December HIV /AIDS Epidemic –Time to React



Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection /Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV / AIDS) is a major social and economic health challenges that faces the world today.  From the time of the discovery of HIV infection, prevention strategies have been the utmost priority globally. There are about thirty seven million people worldwide who are living with HIV /AIDS and 95% of them are in the developing world. The multitudes of factors whivh may influence the spread of HIV infections include inadequate education system, health care, gender discrimination, poverty, cultural practices, to name a few. As of now, there is no complete cure for HIV/AIDS, though highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) can help prolong the life of the person, with this infection and the positive outcome of vaccine trials are long way to go.

India has the third-highest number of people living with HIV in the world with 2.1 million Indians accounting for about four out of 10 people infected with the deadly virus in the Asia—Pacific region, according to a UN report. It has been remarked by Mark R. Dybul, executive director of the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, that HIV/AIDS epidemic in India is extremely grave and that it could soon get out of control unless the response is scaled up massively.

Every now and then, numerous AIDS awareness programmes, educational events to fight HIV/AIDS across the country are conducted by representatives and volunteers. Furthermore, it is encouraging to know that thousands of students altogether mobilise youth power in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Parliamentary forum on HIV/AIDS has forged a unique partnership between young and senior political leaders with the Government, the NGO’s and organisations like UNAIDS corporation and the United Nations to reduce the burden of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our country.

The encouraging positive element for HIV/AIDS patient is the availability of HAART therapy. It has been proved that a combination of drugs can inhibit the replication of HIV and can delay the deterioration of the immune system, which can in turn reduce the morbidity and extend life by several years. The access to ART produced predominantly by the U.S companies and their escalating costs keep these medicines out of reach, of developing nations worldwide. Thereby, for smaller countries a platform has been created to manufacture affordably ‘generic versions’ of the antiretroviral drugs. HIV-vaccine trials are going on and it will be sometime before an approved vaccine for HIV/AIDS may be ruled out. Overall the development of HIV vaccine remains a difficult challenge confronting biomedical research, since it is evident that most effective HIV vaccine should stimulate both antibodies and cytotoxic T lymphocytic (CTLs) response.

It is disheartening to note that HIV/AIDS is going to be prevalent for an indefinite period of time, as of now, unless the prevention strategies are more successful. The knowledge regarding the biology of the virus and behaviour of the infection as known at present is not sufficient to completely cure the infection. The emphasis is laid upon the prevention and to provide care and spport to the affected to enable them to lead a quality life.
The theme of this year World AIDS Day 2015 is “Getting to Zero” that echoes the UNAIDS vision of achieving “Zero New HIV Infections’. It is thus necessary to educate each one in our society about the prevention, control and care of HIV/AIDS.

From our perspective as Dental Surgeons, belonging to the medical fraternity, we have additional responsibility in combating HIV/AIDS. We should take advantage of our profession to fight the epidemic by educating the common man. In our country, the increase in the number of HIV patients undoubtedly demands the participation and involvement of the dental surgeons to check its spread. As professionals we are in unique situation to diagnose and treat oral manifestations, oral lesions in HIV infection, which are indicative, diagnostic and prognostic of HIV infection. Prevention of oral manifestation of HIV/AIDS should be the priority in order to control it globally. Our involvement is thus essential to reduce the burden of HIV/AIDS epidemic in our country.

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