Saturday marks 30th anniversary of World Aids Day

An activist holds a placard in the shape of the red ribbon, the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV, during an awareness campaign ahead of World AIDS Day in Kolkata, India, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. World AIDS Day falls on Dec. 1. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

(RNN) – Since its discovery in the 1980s, 35 million people worldwide have died from HIV/AIDS-related illness, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in human history, according to Worldaidsday.org.

Saturday is the 30th anniversary of World Aids Day, a chance to show support with those living with the virus.

More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, according to HIV.gov. Of those, one in seven don’t know they have it.

In the U.S., HIV is spread mainly through anal or vaginal sex or by sharing drug-use equipment with infected people.

In 2016, 39,782 people were diagnosed with the disease. Of that number, gay and bisexual men represented an estimated 26,200, according to HIV.gov.

The estimated number of annual HIV infections declined by 8 percent from 2010 to 2015, according to numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Southern states accounted for more than half of new HIV diagnoses in 2016, while making up 38 percent of the nation’s population, the site said.

Data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Minorities are also often more affected than other populations.

“African Americans account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses. Those living with HIV, and those who have never received an AIDS diagnosis, compared to other races/ethnicities. In 2016, African Americans accounted for 44 percent of HIV diagnoses, though they comprise 12 percent of the U.S. population,” the CDC said.

Globally, there are an estimated 36.7 million people living with the virus. About 1.8 million are children, according to HIV.org.

Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, South Africa and Namibia are the countries worst affected by the disease, according to the CIA’s World Fact book.

In Swaziland, an estimated 27.2 percent of the population is carrying the disease.

What is HIV and Aids?

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, spreads through bodily fluids. The virus attacks immune systems, targeting CD4 cells along with other cell bodies. The cells help fight off infections in the body, making it unable to fight off infections. Once you contract HIV, you have it for life.

The virus can lead to AIDS, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, if not treated.

HIV symptoms

According to HIV.org, about 40 to 90 percent of people have flu-like symptoms within weeks of an HIV infection.

Symptoms include but are not limited to: fever, chills, rashes, night sweats, muscle aches and sore throat.

For more information on HIV prevention, treatment and testing facilities, visit HIV.gov.

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