Information about and prevention against such a wide spread disease should be common knowledge. But due to cultural, social, religious and personal reasons the subject remains a taboo, the resultant ignorance thus fuelling its spread and increasing its casualties. With no cure for HIV / AIDS in sight, the need of the hour is to create awareness about the disease and its preventive measures.
The first recorded AIDS - related death in Britain was that of Terrence Higgins on 4 July 1982. By the end of March 2006, there were 78,883 people living with HIV and 22,099 people suffering from AIDS in UK. . According to Health Promotion Organization, "over 90% heterosexually acquired HIV infections diagnosed in the UK during 2004 were probably acquired in high prevalence countries, mainly sub-Saharan Africa..". . Within UK, the black minority ethnics acquiring HIV is relatively low as compared to other areas or countries. But it is steadily on the increase. The main reason for this is increased migration from African countries and the typical social, cultural, religious and health-care beliefs of these migrants.
Among the African people sex is a taboo subject. Fathers never discuss it with sons and a mother is not supposed to discuss it with daughters. This creates a vacuum in the normative learning needs of an individual. Coupled with the natural fear of being diagnosed with HIV and the accompanying stigma and discrimination, a person suffers in silence without seeking expert help. At times the person is forced by economic reasons to migrate from his host country. In the new country he or she is usually short of finances, which proves excellent breeding ground for indulging in un-ethical practices. That is why, according to www.avert.org, there were 6727 new cases of HIV diagnosis in UK in 2005.
As a professional health promoter, I believe that it is incumbent upon us to teach these people about the disease in general to create an awareness in them which will enable them to make better decisions. It is felt that such an education will also enable them to overcome their traditional idiosyncrasies to change their health belief models so that either they exercise precautions or else seek help and advice.
What is HIV
HIV is an abbreviation for "Human Immunodeficiency Virus". There are two types of HIV virus. First is HIV-1, which is considered to have originated from Chimpanzees and is the most prevalent type in the UK. Second is HIV-2, considered to have originated from Baboons and is found mostly in West Africa. HIV-1 is comparatively more deadly than HIV-2.
The origins of HIV in humans are shrouded in uncertainty. Although documented cases date back to the early 1950s, unconfirmed cases go as far back as 1934. However, the first recognized case was recorded in 1981 in New York.
How Does HIV Work
The human body has a group of cells and organs known as the Immune System, whose primary task is to fight off viruses and infections. Normally it is able to accomplish this task fairly effectively. But HIV in an infected person attacks the immune