December 1, celebrated as World AIDS Day, serves as a global reminder of our collective responsibility to combat AIDS, a condition triggered by the HIV virus that wreaks havoc on the body's immune system. The statement by Prof. Dr. Osman Kose, leader of the Venerology Study Group at the Turkish Dermatology Association, underlined that the primary transmission channel for this life-threatening virus is unprotected, high-risk sexual behavior, particularly with multiple partners. However, AIDS does not spread through casual contact such as touching, hugging, handshakes, or through tears, sweat, saliva, or shared use of public facilities like pools or bathrooms.
The Symptoms and Preventive Measures
Key symptoms of HIV may include fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, and severe skin disease symptoms. Notably, HIV itself does not have a specific manifestation on the skin, but the presence of other sexually transmitted diseases and a lifestyle of having multiple sexual partners significantly increase the risk of contracting AIDS. Using a condom during intercourse is a crucial preventative measure.
The Global and Local Picture
According to WHO/UNAIDS data, as of 2022, around 39 million people worldwide were living with HIV. Although the global rise in AIDS cases is slowing due to improved treatments, leading to longer life expectancies for patients, Turkey faces a potential surge in HIV cases if current trends continue. Projections indicate a rise to 75,000 cases by 2030 and 375,000 by 2040 in the country. Over the past six years, AIDS cases in Turkey have quadrupled, primarily affecting individuals between the ages of 25 and 35. Without immediate action, the number of cases in Turkey alone is expected to increase by 113% by 2030, posing a serious public health threat.
A Call to Action
On AIDS Awareness Day, the Turkish Dermatology Association urges citizens to seek medical attention for persistent wounds or excessive skin disease symptoms and to get tested if they have a suspicious history. The fight against AIDS is not just a medical battle; it's a fight against stigma, misinformation, and complacency. It is a call to action for all of us, reminding us to stay vigilant, informed, and empathetic.