AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is an infectious disease caused by infections with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Origins of AIDS
• 1983 – 1984 French and American scientists isolated the virus from the blood
• 1999 – Scientists announced that HIV is most likely derived from a kind of chimpanzee. Scientists found a virus, Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIVcpz), which has implications on the Apes, and it is very similar to the structure of several subspecies of HIV.
• There are two types of HIV : HIV-1 and HIV-2
• The origin of HIV-1 is possibly from the African Ape: Chimpanzee
• HIV-2 is from African monkey: Mangabey
• In most countries, the HIV infection is caused by HIV-1. Without proper treatment after HIV-1 is infected, more than 90 % of persons will become the HIV-infected patients in 10-12 years
• HIV-2 mainly distributed in West Africa and in some parts of India, the onset process is relatively slow.
Global Overview of AIDS
• According to the worldwide HIV infection statistics announced by UNAIDS (United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS) in November 2010, in 2009, the estimated number of worldwide HIV-infected adults and children were around 33.3 million. In 2009 only, the estimated worldwide new HIV infections were 2.6 million and the number of deaths due to AIDS was estimated to be 1.8 million.
• On the global distribution, the situation is most serious in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2009, approximately 1.3 million local people died of AIDS, followed by South Asia and Southeast Asia, the estimated number of deaths due to AIDS were 260,000.
• In China, the epidemic of AIDS is generally low, however in some areas and specific population, the infection rates is higher. At the end of 2011, an estimated of 780,000 adults and children were HIV-infected, including the new infections of 48,000 in this year.
• Hong Kong’s AIDS infection rate is relatively low, but new HIV infections are still occurring. An average of more than one person is diagnosed with HIV every day.
HIV/AIDS in Hong Kong
• According to WHO standards, infection rate of HIV/AIDS in Hong Kong is currently at a low level.
• On average, more than one person is infected daily in Hong Kong and one in every 1300 persons is infected.
• The annual infection rate of HIV/AIDS has reached a historical high in two consecutive years (2011 and January to September 2012).
• Several years ago, specialists from the Department of Health has already pointed out that the HIV/AIDS infection level in Hong Kong is “living on the edge”.
• The promotion of HIV/AIDS prevention education is crucial, aiming to allow every person to understand that HIV/AIDS is a contagious disease that is preventable and treatable. If the general public, including persons infected with HIV, industriously carry out universal preventive measures, and if infected persons persist in receiving medical treatment to maintain the virus level at an “undetectable” level, a decrease in the number of new infections is expected to follow. We believe that these effective measures can prevent the spread of HIV virus.
The Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO)
• In Hong Kong, one’s medical history belongs to private information.
• As such, it is not mandatory for a person to disclose his or her medical history to the school or employer; it is also not the usual practice for the government to disclose the medical history of any citizen to his or her school and employer.
• Any person infected by HIV is protected under the DDO.
• As mentioned in the DDO, the definition of disability includes the presence of organisms in the body that cause or are capable of causing disease or illness. HIV infection falls under this definition.
• The right of persons with HIV/AIDS to receive medical treatment is also protected.
• These protections also extend to associates of the infected person. It is unlawful for the associates to be discriminated against, harassed or vilified on the ground of disability of the infected person (an associate includes a spouse, cohabitant, relative, carer and a business, sporting or recreational associate).
Problems faced by people with HIV/AIDS
• Many people still immediately associate HIV/AIDS with sexual promiscuity and homosexuality
• Often, couples, youngsters and elderly people are infected by their partners either unknowingly or under insufficient safety protection measures
• Some children are born with HIV/AIDS, the reason being is the mother, without any antenatal HIV testing, has failed to execute proper preventive measures against transmission of the virus to the fetus
• In Hong Kong, a small number of people are infected during medical treatment
• When their condition becomes serious, some HIV/AIDS patients may lose their work capabilities temporarily or in the long-term, and therefore require the help of social security assistance; there are also other patients who suffer from long-term disability caused by various complications from their illness, and are therefore unable to live a normal healthy life
• Most of the infected are unwilling to disclose their illness to family and friends
• Being infected with HIV/AIDS has caused them to close themselves off and become fearful of facing others
• Their psychological torment is long-term and is sometimes more agonizing than physical pain