World AIDS day
1 December 2018

Though it did not have a name when it was first clinically observed in 1981, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS quickly grew to become a disease of epidemic proportions before becoming a global pandemic. Spread via the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV, the disease gained an official name in 1982, and quickly claimed many victims, spreading around the world. It is important to note that infection by HIV does not immediately lead to AIDS, as the disease develops over time.

Today, almost 37 million people are living with HIV globally. Crucially, almost a quarter of these, or 9.4 million, people do not know their status. This is the primary reason why the theme for this year's UN World AIDS Day is 'Live Life Positively – Know Your HIV Status'. The basic message is to get tested to HIV and know your own status, and to encourage those around us to do the same.

In the 2,500 year old treatise 'Art of War', the Chinese author Sun Tzu states, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Even two and a half millennia ago, they knew that the first step to winning any war is to know the enemy. This is why it is crucial for people to know their own HIV status.

As AIDS can be spread via a range of methods including unprotected sex, contaminated blood transfusions, infected needles and even from mother to child during pregnancy, it is important for those carrying HIV to know their status so that they do not unknowingly contribute to spreading it.

So this World AIDS Day, let us resolve to get to know our own HIV status and do our part in fighting and eliminating this dreaded disease we know as AIDS.