Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) Dr. Fazıl Küçük Faculty of Medicine Dean Prof. Dr. Nahide Gökçora made a statement about the 1 December World AIDS Day. Prof. Dr. Gökçora’s statement reads as follows:
“1 December, World AIDS Day”
In order to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS (Human Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), 1 December was recognized as World AIDS Day by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1988. In our country, 1 December World AIDS Day is considered as an important opportunity to draw attention to HIV/AIDS, to inform and to raise awareness within the community.
HIV is a virus that directly damages the immune system, and people with this virus are called "HIV positive". This virus destroys the cells that form the basis of the immune system's defense mechanism, weakening the immune system over time and reducing body resistance. AIDS is a disease caused by the HIV virus, in which the immune system collapses. Not all HIV-positive individuals have AIDS. Those infected with AIDS get sick much more easily. The susceptibility to infections increases, and because the immune system does not work adequately and effectively, such individuals become vulnerable to many additional diseases such as cancer, infection and dementia. The infection can be transmitted by receiving infected blood, unprotected sexual contact, intravenous drug use with commonly used injectors, piercing and tattooing in inappropriate conditions, or from mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding. Therefore, it can be found in all age groups.
The diagnosis can be made easily with a simple blood test, but after the body is infected with the virus, it takes a while for the test to become positive. For this reason, it is important to do the blood test at the right time.
Early diagnosis and early initiation of treatment are very important for the course of the disease. With treatments developed over the years, HIV-positive people can lead a long and healthy life. The virus cannot completely disappear from the blood, but becomes undetectable and this situation continues for life as long as regular medication is used. There is no obstacle for an HIV-positive individual to get married (by paying attention to regular treatment and prevention methods) and to have a healthy baby under control and monitoring of a doctor.
HIV/AIDS infection, which continues to be an important public health problem affecting millions of people around the world, requires a holistic approach in terms of its social reflections and consequences on a wide range of issues, particularly in diseases, deaths due to diseases, discrimination, human rights, labor, economy and law. Although the world has made significant progress in recent years, important global targets for 2020 have not been achieved. Division, inequality and disrespect for human rights are among the failures that have allowed HIV to become and remain a global health crisis. Now, inequalities and increased service disruptions exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic are making the lives of many people living with HIV even more difficult. It should be kept in mind that the HIV agent cannot be transmitted with the right prevention methods. It is an extremely wrong approach to isolate an HIV-positive person from society, as the infectious agent is not transmitted from person to person by hugging, shaking hands or using shared toilets.
The World Health Organization and its partners have set the theme "End Inequalities, End AIDS" for World AIDS Day 2021, highlighting the importance of reaching people left behind and growing inequalities in accessing basic HIV services. On 1 December 2021, WHO invited World leaders and It calls on citizens to unite to confront the inequalities that cause AIDS and to reach people who cannot afford healthcare. As long as we do not exclude, marginalize, judge, or make them feel alone. If we continue to make bold and collective efforts to take on inequalities, we can end AIDS by 2030. Measures needed to overcome inequalities and discrimination include:
• Community-led and people-centered infrastructure formation
• More healthcare workers
• Fair access to drugs, vaccines and health technologies
• Develop key workers and provide them with the resources and tools they need
For public health, it is vital to put an end to inequalities, to end AIDS, and to end pandemics by putting these measures into practice.”