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World AIDS Day 2021: ASU calls for removing stigma, spreading awareness

On World AIDS Day 2021, observed worldwide on December 1, Apeejay Stya University (ASU) organised a virtual session to raise awareness about the life-threatening disease and demonstrate solidarity in the face of the pandemic.



HIV remains a major public health issue that affects millions of people across the world. The spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) leads to Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) which attacks the immune system of the patient and reduces its resistance to other diseases, thereby putting the life of the patient at risk. Although the world has made significant progress in recent decades, there’s a lot that needs to be done. As per World Health Organization’s (WHO), 3.77 crore people were living with AIDS in 2020. According to the latest HIV estimates report (2019) of the Government, India is estimated to have around 23.49 lakh people living with HIV/AIDS in 2019. To commemorate the World AIDS Day, School of Education, NSS & Rotaract Club of ASU in collaboration with Medanta Medicity, Gurugram, organised an interactive virtual session raising awareness of the life-threatening disease and working towards ending the stigma surrounding it. The theme of the session was in consonance with the theme of World AIDS Day 2021: ‘End inequalities. End AIDS.’ The WHO, along with its partners are highlighting the growing inequalities in access to essential HIV services.

Diet and nutrition to fight HIV and AIDS

Highlighting the nutrition guidelines for HIV/AIDS patients, Dr. Monika Pushkarna, Nutritionist & Diabetes Educator, Medanta & NDEP gave 7 nutrition tips. She said eating well is key to maintaining strength, energy, and a healthy immune system. “Start with the basics (protein carbohydrates, fats, etc), maintain your ideal body weight, build muscle with proteins, add carbohydrates for energy, get the right kind of fat, boost your immunity with vitamins and minerals and follow stringent food safety standards.”

She presented a detailed diet plan for coping with specific symptoms of HIV/AIDS such as nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, too much weight loss, mouth and swallowing problems, Lipodystrophy (fat redistribution syndrome).

90-90-90 treatment target

Taking the discussion further, Dr. Subhabrata Kar, Assistant Professor, School of Biosciences, ASU  stressed the need to lay more emphasis on the UNAIDS “90-90-90” treatment target. It called for 90% of HIV-infected individuals to be diagnosed by 2020, 90% of whom will be on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and 90% of whom will achieve sustained virologic suppression.  However, the Covid-19 led disruption in healthcare services resulted in non-achievement of the target. “India has the third-highest number of people living with HIV in the world. I believe that with the meaningful youth participation in the HIV response we can meet UNAIDS ‘90-90-90’ in the coming years.”

Dr. Amita Jain, Senior Consultant Urogynaecologist Medanta Institute of Urology & Robotic Surgery, Medanta shattered myths surrounding HIV transmission. She reiterated that AIDS is not transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks, or other insects, or through saliva, tears, or sweat. It’s also not transmitted by hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilets, or sharing dishes. You can only get HIV by coming into direct contact with certain body fluids (blood, semen and pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, breast milk). Dr. Amita also called for the need to eradicate the stigma associated with the disease as it has led to forming various prejudices and discrimination against people living with this condition.

A poster-making competition was also organised to create awareness on HIV/AIDS in society in general and the young generation in particular. Piyush Dagar, a first-year student of Bachelor of Design stood first while Rashi Shukla, a third-year student of Bachelor in Journalism & Mass Communication, came second.

Poster by Piyush Dagar from Bachelor of Design
Poster by Rashi Shukla from Bachelor in Journalism & Mass Communication

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]