1st December - World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day was first celebrated on 1st December 1988. The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) became operational in 1996 and took over the planning and promotion of World AIDS Day. UNAIDS created the World AIDS Campaign in 1997 and since then it focuses on communication, prevention and education.

More than 25 million people have died of HIV between 1981 and 2007 and about 33.2 million people are living with HIV.

According to the Ministry of Health, in Moldova there are over ten thousand people, including 300 children infected with HIV/AIDS and annually 300 people die from this disease. What worries is that 40% of people have discovered they have HIV on a late-stage diagnosis. Additionally, some data show that there are about 18,000 people living with HIV, but only half of them know their status.

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which attacks and progressively destroys the body's immune system.

HIV is mainly spread through:

• direct contact with an infected blood;

• sexual contact;

• pregnancy, giving birth and breastfeeding, from an infected mother to child;

A person infected with HIV does not necessarily experience any signs of this disease, but is still carrying the virus and is able to spread it to others. As time goes, the immune system of a HIV-positive person is badly damaged and becomes vulnerable to infections. This happens because the number of immune system cells falls below a particular level. It is also considered that HIV progressed to AIDS when a person develops one or more severe illnesses.

People cannot find out their HIV status by a simple physical examination. The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get blood tested. The test should be done no earlier than three months after you were infected.

Antiretroviral Therapy (ARV) is one of the most important factors that help maintain a good health for people living with HIV/AIDS. The ARV does not kill or cure the virus, but it can make it easier for the body to fight illness or infection. The Antiretroviral Therapy consists of medications that should be administered every day.

ARV therapy is available in Moldova and is offered for free at the ARV department of Dermatology Republican Dispensary.