What is HIV? HIV stands for ‘Human Immunodeficiency Virus’. ‘Immunodeficiency’ refers to how this virus weakens a person’s immune system, the part of the body that fights off diseases. HIV has been in humans for many decades but was only identified in the early 1980s. What is AIDS? AIDS stands for ‘Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome'. It means a collection of illnesses caused by a virus people acquire (HIV) that weakens their immune system (immune deficiency). You cannot get an AIDS diagnosis unless you are already HIV positive.
What does HIV do in the body?? Your immune system protects you from illnesses and infections. HIV uses important immune system cells, called CD4 cells, to make more copies of itself. In the process it kills off some of your CD4 cells and the number you have to protect you from illnesses drops. If HIV is not treated, your immune system is weakened as the number of CD4 cells drops. Then it can’t fight off infections and you will become ill. HIV treatment does not cure HIV, it can reduce levels of the virus in the blood to such low levels that it is not able to cause damage to your immune system.
Statistics Over 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK. Of these, 22% are undiagnosed and do not know about their HIV infection. In 2012, 490 people in the UK with HIV died. By the end of 2012, an estimated 35.3 million people were living with HIV worldwide. In 2012 1.6 million people worldwide died with AIDS. Since the start of the epidemic (in the early 1980s) 36 million people have died worldwide.
HIV doesn’t discriminate 17 people a day in the UK are told they have HIV. Those 17 people could be gay or straight; old or young; single or in a relationship; black, white or Asian. It doesn’t matter who they are, or how they live their lives, HIV doesn’t discriminate. However there are ways that you can protect yourselves against contracting HIV, the main one being…
How we are getting involved this World AIDS Day… We are going to be doing some fundraising to support Terrence Higgins Trust and their vital work supporting people living with, and affected by, HIV in the UK.
Any questions? If you have any questions about anything raised in today’s World AIDS Day Assembly you can find out more from: THT Direct – 0808 802 1221 – a free and confidential phone line offering support, advice and information. Your local Terrence Higgins Trust centre. www.tht.org.uk A teacher at school.