DECEMBER 1 marks World Aids Day and several campaign events will be taking place around the country. The first World Aids Day was commemorated in 1988 and was the first global health awareness day internationally. Traditionally, each World Aids Day has had a different theme and this year the theme is “Know Your Status”. South Africa currently has a large number of people who are HIV positive but a large percent of our population are unaware of their status. The World Health Organisation funds a number of research programmes and widely recognised anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment programmes. HIV is a virus that weakens the immune system and leaves the patient with a higher chance of contracting an infection, this is how AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, is contracted. It then deteriorates the immune system faster, making it difficult for the person infected with the virus to fight of any possible infections or live a normal lifestyle. ARV treatment helps to keep HIV cells low and strengthens the immune system. Like most viruses or diseases, the sooner the virus is detected, the better it will be for the person affected by it. Child Welfare SA Port Shepstone celebrates World Aids Day in collaboration with the 16 Days of Activism campaign, raising awareness through various programs.Public relations officer at Child Welfare Port Shepstone Carol Meth said: “During our Awareness campaigns we advise people on how to protect themselves as well as others. “We also help people understand that the stigma and discrimination against HIV positive individuals remains a reality to many people living with the virus. “During World Aids Day, we remember those who are infected and those who mourn the loss of a loved one due to the virus. We encourage people to unite in the fight against HIV, increase awareness, fight prejudice, and improve education.” “On December 1, we are not only raising an awareness on how important it is for people to know their status but also to stand in support of those who are fighting the virus and for those who have lost friends and family to the virus. All government hospitals and clinics conduct HIV and Aids tests with no cost involved, ARV’s and relevant programs are also allocated to patients. Visit your nearest public hospital or clinic and ‘Know Your Status’.” For further information contact sister Dlikilili at Port Shepstone Regional Hospital ARV clinic at 039 688 6247.