by TATUM McGANN
AIDS – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome- is a virus which attacks a person’s immune system, making them vulnerable to sickness and infection. Once a person contracts HIV, the virus attacks the body’s immune cells and the person can develop AIDS. In order to be medically diagnosed with AIDS, a person must have fewer than 200 cells of CD4 (immune cells) per mL of their blood. HIV has no cure, so when a person contracts the virus it remains in their body for life. Without treatment, people living with AIDS typically only survive up to three years. There are medications which are highly effective at combatting the virus; however, AIDS is still a relevant issue and people need to be informed about the virus.
Statistics show that in the United States 1.2 million people are living with AIDS, and one in eight of those infected are completely unaware of it. December 1st is National World AIDS Day, designed to help people to come together to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS and support the fight against the virus.
The biggest issue with the HIV/AIDS epidemic right now is the lack of knowledge among the public. Due to the new medications and scientific advancements, people seem to believe AIDS is no longer an issue. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of people in the world living with AIDS. Just because a victim of AIDS is capable of surviving longer now than they were twenty years ago doesn’t mean their life is a walk in the park. People who live with AIDS have difficulties with everyday tasks, and exposure to even a common cold could put their lives at risk because of their compromised immune systems.
The AIDS Awareness Club in Oceanside High School is fundraising in order to make a donation to LIACC (Long Island Association for AIDS Care) which helps to spread awareness about the fight against HIV/AIDS. LIACC comes in to train the club members so that they can educate others about the causes and serious consequences of HIV/AIDS. It’s especially important that Oceanside High School students are knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS because Nassau County was ranked as one of the counties in The US with the highest percentage of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Taylor Waschitz, the AIDS Awareness secretary says, “Exposing people to information can help them to make a more informed decision in protecting themselves against HIV/AIDS”. Our society is more capable than ever of living AIDS/HIV free, but it is lack of caution due to ignorance which is keeping the deadly cycle alive. The more knowledgeable we are, the more we can do to prevent the spread of the virus.