HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
HIV is a virus still considered as a new virus in our current day and age. It was believed that HIV started in Congo when a native ate an infected Chimpanzee. HIV was transmitted through the Chimpanzee’s blood to the native and that became the epitome of HIV, within 30-40 years HIV spread rapidly from Africa to the other five continents.
If you remember the movie Bohemian Rhapsody there was a section where Freddie Mercury played by Rami Malek was watching the news regarding a disease which baffled doctors and scientist. He already suspected that he had been infected with the same disease but there were no available methods to test for HIV until March 1985. It was about two (2years) from the time that HIV became known to the public, that Freddie Mercury was diagnosed with HIV in April 1987.
Scientist first found this disease with related lung infection symptoms which was called Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia (PCP) in predominantly the gay men population and drug addicts using injections especially in shared needles. This disease was so vague that it was believed that it only affected gay men, therefore it was called Gay-related Immune Deficiency (GRID). Later on GRID seemed that it is not isolated to only the gay population but affected men, women and babies, therefore it was renamed as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
It was that in 1987 that the FDA approved the first drug to combat HIV and to control the spread. Up to date we have expanded on the treatment of HIV to more than 30 types of drugs in the market available now. Initially when the medical community did not know anything about HIV, we were unprepared and it felt like going to war against an unknown invisible enemy. We did not know the route of transmission, method of detecting and treatment. Now more than 30 years later we finally have an idea to treat and prevent this disease with very effective drugs and equipment like condoms.
Australia has recently vowed that by 2025 they will totally eliminate the spread of HIV in their country with awareness, PrEP, PEP and education. We saw in their census that there was a reduction of new HIV case up to 30 – 35 percent with the launch of PrEP. In the beginning of 2019 Australia has brought down the rate of new HIV cases down to a mere 10 percent with awareness of PrEP, PEP and education. Many people in Australia knows about the importance of HIV prevention.
HIV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases is not a taboo, discussing about sex to children is not an embarrassment and sex seen as a natural survival instinct, rather than a moral indecency. The shift of paradigm has begun!
In Malaysia and in many developing countries like Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines are facing uncertainties as we lack the knowledge about prevention and HIV. I still get questions from a lot of people who are sexually active with multiple partners about HIV. Many blatantly ask me “Doctor, what is HIV?”
In my clinic I host Free HIV Testing Events and HIV Support Group called JB-HAPPI (Johor Bahru HIV and AIDS Prevention and Protection Institution). This is my own initiative and non-funded. I chose JB-HAPPI because people who are living with HIV deserves to be HAPPY or spelt as HAPPI.