It was in June 1981 that American doctors first started writing about an unknown illness that appeared to be affecting young homosexual men. Those men had been healthy. They had no other, existing conditions. But before we knew it, HIV/AIDS would become the most deadly pandemic of the late, last century.
When HIV enters the bloodstream, it attacks the human immune system so severely that it is unable to fight off any other viral or bacterial infections.
If HIV goes untreated, people can develop AIDS, and that can lead to serious illness.
But if HIV is treated early enough, it is possible to avoid the risk of AIDS developing and symptoms can even be reversed.
By the time the United Nations introduced World AIDS Day in 1988, the pandemic had spread to more than 100 countries.
Since then, World AIDS Day has been marked each year on December 1 and adopted a special motto. In 2021 that motto is "End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics."
AIDS has hit African countries hardest. Healthcare professionals on the continent often lack the medication to treat people.
Two-thirds of all the world's HIV infections are with people living in Africa — that's 25.5 million people. About 2 million of those infected people are under the age of 15.
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