THERESA ZETTL

What’s World AIDS Day about?

World AIDS Day has been held every year on December 1 since 1988. It affirms the rights of HIV-positive people worldwide and calls for coexistence without prejudice and exclusion. In addition, World AIDS Day commemorates the people who have died because of HIV and AIDS.

What is HIV? What is AIDS?

AIDS is not the same as HIV. HIV is an abbreviation and means “human immune deficiency virus”. HIV damages the body’s defenses, also called the immune system. Without any treatment, the body can no longer fight invading bacteria, fungi or viruses. In the worst case, certain life-threatening diseases may occur, such as a severe pneumonia. This is then referred to as AIDS which is an abbreviation or “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome”. HIV drugs suppress the virus in the body and thus prevent the outbreak of AIDS. People with HIV can thus live well and for a long time.

How is it possible to get infected? How can I protect myself?

The HI virus is difficult to transmit, as it is very sensitive and not active for a long time outside the human body under everyday conditions. However, the HIV is found in few body fluids of the HIV-positive person such as seminal fluid (sperm), vaginal fluid, liquid film on the mucous membrane in the intestine, blood, and breast milk. Most people become infected with HIV during unprotected sex, such as oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse without using condoms. However, it is also possible to have a mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding by an HIV-positive woman.
Another possibility of getting infected with HIV is by sharing syringes during intravenous drug use with an infected person. In this matter, drug awareness organizations recommend to only use hygienical material (single-use syringes, spoons, etc) and not sharing these with other drug addicted people.

Some global facts and numbers on HIV:

  • Worldwide, about 38 million people are living with HIV
  • 73% of people with HIV receive medication – this means about a quarter does not have any access to medication
  • In 2020, 680,000 people worldwide died as a result of AIDS
  • Since the beginning of the epidemic, 36.3 million people have died as a result of AIDS
  • Southern Africa is the hardest hit. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the number of infections has risen sharply in recent years.
  • The Corona pandemic set back measures against HIV/AIDS: contact restrictions have hampered HIV testing and led to a sharp drop in diagnoses in many countries. Drug provision has also been restricted or interrupted in some cases.

Covid-19 and HIV – a new challenge:

Die Deutsche Aidshilfe (German AIDS Aid) has put together some information about Covid-19 and HIV:

  • Previous observations and data show that, on statistical average (this includes HIV-positive people with and without HIV therapy and with or without additional risk factors), people with HIV have a moderately increased risk of experiencing a more severe course of COVID-19 or dying from it. According to the assessment of the Permanent Vaccination Commission at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the risk of a fatal course is increased by a factor of 1.5.
  • The risk of a severe course is higher for people with HIV who do not take HIV medication and have a severely weakened immune system, as well as for HIV postitives with additional risk factors (diabetes mellitus, kidney or liver damage).
  • In contrast, the risk is barely increased in the presence of effective HIV therapy and the absence of other factors.
  • For all people – with or without HIV – the most important measures to protect against Covid-19 are keeping your distance, washing your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap, and wearing mouth-nose protection. This also applies to sex.
  • Numerous drugs have been and are being tested to treat coronavirus. Among them are HIV drugs. However, initial study results are sobering.
  • Results on the protective effect of an HIV agent after contact with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (post-exposure prophylaxis) are still pending; if there is a protective effect, it is likely to be weak.

Are you interested in more health topics?

Then we invite you to participate in our ELfR working group Health. You will find more information here.

Author Profile

Theresa Zettl
Co-Founder of European Liberals for Reform
Chairperson of ELfR Working Group Health
ALDE Individual Members Steering Committee Member (2022-2023)

Social Media & Digital Marketing Expert, Blogger
Favorite Topics: Health, Society, LGBTQI
World AIDS Day 2021
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The opinions on this blog are of the authors themselves and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of ELfR.

Theresa Zettl


Co-Founder of European Liberals for Reform Chairperson of ELfR Working Group Health ALDE Individual Members Steering Committee Member (2022-2023) Social Media & Digital Marketing Expert, Blogger Favorite Topics: Health, Society, LGBTQI


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