HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, a deadly disease that is marked by pneumonias and cancers. World AIDS Day exists to call attention to this virus that continues to spread despite the development of therapies against it. Currently statistics say that just 5 percent of infected individuals who need these drug therapies that could save their lives, receive them. Sometimes the cost of lifetime treatment in resource limited regions of the world is more than those infected can afford. On Dec. 1, Ebay Celebrity Memorabilia Auction Honors World AIDS Day >>
Remarkably the virus continues to spread. Last year, in the United States alone, 56,000 people became infected; six new cases arise per one new person treated. Currently one to two people is infected in the United States every 15 minutes. San Francisco reports three to four new HIV cases a day. All these numbers add up to a frightening fact: that while World AIDS Day is being celebrated, more people are being infected with the deadly virus as we speak.
Adding to this is that 25 percent of those infected in the United States don’t even know it. World AIDS Day founders believe this can only be changed by increasing public testing for the infection and providing more information about HIV/AIDS. It’s been proven that knowledge can help prevent the spread of AIDS and HIV, particularly if it is taught in middle and high schools.
Young people are among the largest group of HIV infected individuals in Iran. In a rare government issued report, 18,000 Iranians are infected with HIV. Health Minister Kamran Bagheri Lankarani said on World AIDS Day gave this reasoning for the high incidence of HIV infected Iranians: increasingly Iranians are transmitting HIV through "illegal sexual relations," meaning adultery, prostitution and homosexuality, which are all illegal in Iran.
The challenge for World AIDS officials in countries such as Iran is to get them past the “taboo” of speaking about AIDS and HIV. In a country where more than half of its population is under the age of 25, officials there are concerned they are engaging in sexually dangerous activity.
"What we are worried about is a third wave of the AIDS epidemic through sexual contact given that a majority of our population are young people," Lankarani said on state television Monday to mark World AIDS Day.
Abbas Sedaqat, head of the ministry's AIDS Department, said the number of HIV is quickly growing. The United Nations AIDS agency reports about 86,000 people in Iran are HIV-positive.
"There are 18,320 registered individuals who have tested HIV-positive, but the total number of Iranians infected with the deadly virus is estimated between 70,000 to 100,000," Sedaqat said.
One possible solution to curb this worldwide spread of HIV/AIDS is to create a highly effective vaccine that would protect people from getting the infection. Similar to a vaccine for the measles, the vaccine would prevent the development of the disease in an individual. World AIDS Day is about progressing towards finding new treatments and an eventual cure for the disease. Worldwide, the World Health Organization estimates that about 33 million people have HIV.