by Staff writer
1. 36.7 million people are living with HIV globally
In 2016, an estimated 36.7 million people were living with HIV, including 1.8 million children. 19.4 million of these people live in East and Southern Africa.
2. 30% of those living with HIV don’t know they have the virus
Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 70 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 35 million people have died of HIV. The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once a year.
3. The only way to survive HIV is through treatment
People with HIV who are aware of their status can get HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy, or ART) and live healthy, normal lives.
4. People with HIV that have undetectable viral load cannot transmit the virus
The amount of HIV in body fluids is called your viral load. Effective HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy) suppresses the amount of HIV in body fluids to the point where it cannot be detected by the tests used in clinics.
When someone starts HIV treatment, viral load usually becomes undetectable within six months. The CDC has confirmed that a person with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV.
Having an undetectable viral load does not mean you are cured of HIV. It does not mean you should stop taking treatment. It does mean that, as long as your viral load stays undetectable, you radically reduce your chance of passing HIV on to someone else.
5. Receptive anal intercourse carries the highest risk for HIV transmission than any other sexual behavior
According to the CDC, the risk of infection for receptive vaginal sex is 8 per 10,000 exposures. For insertive penile-vaginal sex, the risk of infection lowers to 4 out of 10,000 exposures.
Receptive anal intercourse with a partner who is HIV-positive is the sex act that’s most likely to spread the virus. For every 10,000 instances of receptive anal intercourse with a partner who has HIV, the virus is likely to be transmitted 138 times!
Insertive anal intercourse poses a lower risk, with 11 infections per 10,000 exposures.
All forms of oral sex are considered low risk.
6. No one actually knows who was first to contract HIV
It had been widely thought that a Canadian flight attendant called Gaetan Dugas who died of AIDS-related infections in 1984 was responsible for the spread of AIDS in America.
But according to a new book, HIV was killing people in Africa long before then and the first case of infection could have been a hunter who became infected with blood from a chimpanzee that was carrying the disease as far back as 1908.
The hunter was wounded while tracking the chimp in south east Cameroon.
7. The Story of Ryan White
The first case of HIV infection to make global headlines was that of a 10 year old boy named Ryan White. He contracted the disease through a blood transfusion.
As a hemophiliac, Ryan became infected with HIV from a contaminated blood treatment and, when diagnosed in December 1984, was given six months to live.
Doctors said he posed no risk to other students, but AIDS was poorly understood by the general public at the time.
When Ryan tried to return to school, many parents and teachers in Howard County rallied against his attendance due to concerns of the disease spreading through bodily fluid transfer.
A lengthy administrative appeal process ensued, and news of the conflict turned Ryan into a popular celebrity and advocate for AIDS research and public education.
Surprising his doctors, Ryan White lived five years longer than predicted but died in April 1990, one month before his high school graduation.