World AIDS Day, when we remember those that have fallen victim to the virus over the years. When AIDS first came to prominence in the mid 1980s, it was initially thought to be a disease that only affected homosexuals. Not so. It is a sexually transmitted disease, passed between partners during sexual intercourse. The virus (human immunodeficiency virus HIV) is also passed upon blood-blood contact, like with blood transfusions when the blood has not been checked.
AIDS, the complex of diseases that is brought about by infection with HIV, leads to death because it knocks out parts of the normal immune system, which defends us against bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. Although drugs have been devised that can slow the progression of the disease, AIDS is not curable, and a vaccine is still a long way off. It is 25 years ago today that AIDS came to prominence, and at first there was great awareness of practicing safe sex (using condoms &c), but this seems to be falling by the wayside.
AIDS was first discovered among humans in Uganda in 1959, although the HIV virus, naturally occurring amongst primates (monkeys, apes) will have been around for a lot longer. HIV has counterparts in other species, such as cats. There is, to my knowledge, no cross-over between species - having said that, the close relationship between primates and humans means that the virus was able to cross between the two species groups, something that happened just over a hundred years ago.
World AIDS Day is, to me, about preventing the spread of the disease. This means education.
It is also about ensuring that medication is easily accessible, whilst research continues to find a cure or a vaccine.