HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that aggressively attacks the body’s immune system, eventually rendering it completely unable to fight off any diseases.
Advances in modern medicine now mean that the life expectancy of sufferers has increased significantly, with a record 34 million individuals currently living with the virus and death rates currently at their lowest (1.8 million a year) since a peak in 2005.
Whilst rates of HIV seem to have decreased in other countries, UK rates have seen a rise of over 50 per cent between 2000 and 2009 – meaning there are now more than 90,000 Brits with HIV, though a quarter of those affected remain unaware.
More than 90% of HIV cases in the UK are as a result of sexual contact, with infected bodily fluids being passed from individual to individual via sex without a condom or through the shared use of infected syringes or needles.
Many people do not fully understand the aids virus, how it is transmitted, how it can be prevented and how to live with it. The aim of World AIDS Day is to help people understand the facts so that they can then use them to protect both themselves and others from the HIV infection.
If you or a loved one are living with aids and are struggling with the emotional fallout then you may find that counselling can help you to adjust to the changes and to cope with what is happening to you on an psychological level. Please visit our HIV/AIDS fact-sheet for further information about counselling, or visit our homepage and use the search tool to contact a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist in your local area.
For information and advice about HIV/AIDS and for great fundraising ideas please visit the World AIDS Day website to find out more.