Over the past few days the eventing community has been dealing with a terrible situation. The success that Darren has had within our sport as an Olympic medalist, the incredible social tensions surrounding many facets of the case, the tragedy of Darren’s fall, and the horrible recklessness described in the allegations make this story a nightmare for our sport.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body’s natural defense system. Without a strong immune system, the body has trouble fighting off disease. Both the virus and the infection it causes are called HIV. White blood cells are an important part of the immune system. HIV invades and destroys certain white blood cells called CD4+ cells.
The last stage of HIV infection is AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). People with AIDS have a low number of CD4+ cells and get infections or cancers that rarely occur in healthy people. These can be deadly. But having HIV does not mean you have AIDS. Even without treatment, it takes a long time for HIV to progress to AIDS–usually 10 to 12 years. If HIV is diagnosed before it becomes AIDS, medicines can slow or stop the damage to the immune system. With treatment, many people with HIV are able to live long and active lives.
Read more about diagnosis, treatment, and prevention here.
People living with HIV/AIDS worldwide in 2008: 33.4 million
More than 25 million people have died from AIDS since 1981
Africa has over 14 million AIDS orphans