HIV/AIDS: An Ongoing Public Health Fight

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HIV/AIDS has been one of the most devastating and challenging viral diseases that humanity has faced in recent decades. Since its emergence in the 1980s, it has left a profound mark on global health, as well as on communities and individual lives affected by this disease.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) was first identified in 1983, and soon after it was discovered that it caused Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Since then, it is estimated that more than 75 million people have contracted HIV worldwide, and more than 32 million have died from AIDS. These numbers are shocking and remind us of the urgency and importance of addressing this disease holistically.

The impact of HIV/AIDS has been particularly significant in poor regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of people living with the virus are concentrated. High infection rates, lack of access to adequate health services, and socio-economic challenges have contributed to the spread of the disease in this region. However, HIV/AIDS is not limited to a specific geographical location: it affects people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations and socio-economic groups around the world.

Over the years, significant advances have been made in the prevention and treatment of this disease. Antiretroviral therapies have revolutionized the management of the disease, allowing people with the virus to lead longer, healthier lives. In addition, prevention strategies have been implemented, such as the use of condoms, the promotion of sex education, and the implementation of needle exchange programs to reduce transmission of the virus.

Despite these advances, HIV/AIDS remains a persistent public health challenge worldwide. The stigma and discrimination associated with the disease continue to hamper prevention and treatment efforts. Lack of access to adequate health services, especially in marginalized communities, is another contributing factor to the spread of the virus.

Our country remains among the countries with the lowest HIV prevalence in the Caribbean region and the Western Hemisphere, however, it continues to be a health problem since approximately 26,952 cases have been diagnosed with the disease.

According to data provided by the website of the Cuban Ministry of Public Health, 82% of patients with the disease are between 20 and 54 years of age and the mortality rate is 17%.

About 1,500 cases are diagnosed annually and there is a prevalence of 0.4% (4 per 1,000 inhabitants), Dr. Manuel Romero Placeres, head of the National HIV Program in the country, told the Cuban press. “We have good results, but we still have a lot to do for eradication,” he explained.

Since 2015, the World Health Organization certified that Cuba had eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. In addition, most people living with HIV in our country do not die of AIDS.

The specialist recognizes that the initiatives adopted by Cuba’s public health system have been effective, highlighting that of differentiated health services, “which have been promoted in 30 selected municipalities to provide more comprehensive care to the entire population living with HIV or is vulnerable to contracting the virus.

“This has been possible thanks to the strengthening of laboratories, consultations and comprehensive care for the communities. Prevention actions and care for people living with HIV have also been pillars in the fight against the epidemic,” he concluded.

The story of HIV/AIDS is a powerful lesson in the importance of solidarity, empathy and commitment in the fight against viral diseases. As we continue to face this global challenge, it is essential to remember the importance of prevention, education and support for people living with the virus. (ALH)

Translated by Casterman Medina de Leon

Acerca Casterman Medina de León

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