World AIDS Day is one of the eight official global public health campaigns that are marked by the World Health Organisation. The other 7 are World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Malaria Day and World Hepatitis Day.
On December 1st every year since 1988, people across the globe unite to commemorate World AIDS Day. This is a day set aside to raise awareness on the disease caused by the human immunodeficiency viruses more commonly known as HIV. If left unmanaged, HIV develops into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS, where their immune system is compromised as the virus spreads and damages the cells responsible for fighting diseases in the body. Infected people are then prone to other opportunistic diseases such as tuberculosis. Although HIV infection cannot be completely cured, it can be managed through the use of anti-retroviral drugs and a positive lifestyle with a balanced diet and exercise.
World AIDS day gives us a chance to remember the people who have died from HIV/AIDS, a figure that is between 28.9 million and 41.5 million people worldwide as of 2017. It also is an opportunity to show solidarity with the 37.9 million people living with HIV across the globe. The events and conversations around this day help to raise awareness on the importance of widespread testing, managing patient’s health and preventing the spread of the disease.
The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is “Communities make the difference”. The focus is to bring together individuals from the grassroots level to not only share information around HIV and AIDS but also to spur individual action that collectively will help fight the pandemic. Through the combined efforts of health workers, community leaders, peer educators and other members of society, we will be able to keep the focus of HIV prevention and management on the people and never lose the human angle to the fight.
There are many groups that are leading this drive for awareness and empowering people to fight HIV. For example, one of MYDAWA’ s partners, Triggerise Kenya, mobilises youth in mostly lower-income communities and educates them on reproductive and sexual health. They also help facilitate these young people to acquire the products that they need to take care of themselves such as contraceptives, pregnancy and HIV self-test kits and more. The importance of this model is that it utilizes people who are known in the community and can readily interact with the youth. These community leaders are able to relate better with the people on the ground to ensure that their needs and fears are taken into account.
Another initiative that we are proud to support as MYDAWA is the Chukua Selfie campaign powered by the Elton John Foundation and Population Services Kenya (PSI). This drive is also targeted to the younger demographic and seeks to make self-testing of HIV not only the norm, but actually something that teens and young adults can be proud of. Together we are able to create awareness of the importance of knowing one’ s HIV status and through the MYDAWA platform, anyone who wants to test themselves at their own discretion can order a kit and have it delivered to them. MYDAWA stocks two types of HIV self-test kits: the OraQuick and the Insti kit. The former user’s saliva swabbed from the user’s gums while the latter uses blood drawn by a small pinprick on the finger. The benefit of these innovations in testing is that it removes the stigma that many young people have of going to a health facility to be tested for HIV. Since they can test themselves at their own convenience, they are able to check their status more frequently. This coupled with access to condoms gives these young people the ability to prevent the spread of HIV.
There are other ways in which individuals and organizations can come together and pool resources to help reduce the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS in the world today. The National AIDS Control Council (NACC) is a Kenyan body that coordinates efforts by both the public sector and private entities to fight HIV. If interested in joining them in this, please visit their website to get more information.
Order a HIV self-test kit from MYDAWA and get it delivered to you in less than 4 hours. Choose from the Oraquick oral kit or the Insti kit. Get them delivered to you with no delivery charges in less than 4 hours.