World AIDS Day: Impressive Turnout At Free HIV/AIDS Screening

On December 1, in commemoration of World AIDS Day, AUN Clinic offered free HIV/AIDS screening and consultation to members of the community.

One hundred and fifty-eight attended this year’s exercise compared to 50 who responded last year, a 216 percent increase in turnout.

You can’t tell if they are infected just by looking at someone, according to the Clinic’s Chief Administrator, Philip Eappen. He pointed out that most infected people don’t know that they are, so it is imperative to get screened.

In times past, patients had undergone surgeries only to return as HIV carriers. Mr. Eappen linked such cases to poor health care services in communities where people use unsterilized equipment to perform procedures.

Common symptoms of most recent HIV cases are severe flu, sore throat, fever, rashes on the chest, fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea. About 70 to 80 percentage of newly infected people show these symptoms. After three weeks, the symptoms will disappear, then the carrier will live many more years without showing symptoms.

Perhaps, if a person is found positive, he added that there are antiretroviral drugs issued out for free as well.

A recent UNAIDS report “shows that 19 million of the 35 million people living with HIV globally do not know their HIV-positive status.”  This is often because people are afraid to check their status due to stigma and discrimination.  But as Mr. Eappen pointed out, early detection of the virus can save life.

The same UNAIDS report also observes that: “Those countries that ignore discrimination and condone inequalities will not reach their full potential, face serious public health and financial consequences. The report emphasizes the need for equal access to quality HIV services as both a human rights and public health imperative.”

By Nelly Ating