HIV/AIDS is virtually one of the most popular disease on earth. Hardly will there be anyone who have not heard anything about this deadly disease and its prevalence in our world. Yet, the number of people tested to be positive keeps increasing every day. I am always amazed when I hear the high figures of newly confirmed cases despite the efforts and funds spent by both the Government and Non-Governmental Organizations to curb the spread.
According to the World Health Organization 2017, about 36.9 million (including 2.6 million children) people globally have been tested to be positive to HIV with sub-Saharan African countries (especially those in the low and middle income areas) leading the pace. Unfortunately, many people living in these countries still remain undiagnosed and do not know their HIV status.
World map showing HIV AND AIDS Prevalence BY Escondites - CC BY 3.0, link
From my study, 3 out of 5 people who seek medical attention in the clinic where I work do not know their HIV status and have only visited the clinic because they can no longer handle the illness at home. Likewise, I realized that, though, majority of them have one way or the other heard about the disease, still, they seems to doubt some of the facts regarding this dreadful diseases. Surprisingly, majority of these people are learned individuals who have at least a Primary School Certificate.
However, one major recommendation that I have always tender based on my experience in order to fasttrack the total eradication of this disease is to disseminate HIV/AIDS and safe SEX information in a simpler term through every possible medium. Please take your time to read through as I use this medium to discuss on this subject matter using simplified question and answer method.
What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a tiny germ called a VIRUS that lives in human blood, fluid, semen, breast milk and harms the body of an infected person. People don’t know when they have HIV. This is because they look and feel healthy for some time before they get sick with AIDS.
What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is a deadly disease that is gotten from HIV. It has no cure. HIV slowly hurts the body so that it can’t fight simple diseases. Anyone that has AIDS is likely to die soon especially if HIV was not adequately managed.
How do people get HIV?
HIV can be contracted through many means. But, you need to understand that most people that have the virus get it through unprotected sex. This means that if you have sex with someone who you do not know his/her HIV status without using condom, then that person may transfer the virus to you.
Unprotected sex From Pixabay: Public domain
Another way HIV is transmitted is from a pregnant mother who has HIV to the unborn child. It is also possible for a child to get HIV during childbearing or breastfeeding. Some people also get HIV when they receive blood that is not tested in the hospital (transfusion of unscreened blood).
HIV can also be passed when people share things that may have infected blood on them. These include needles, razors, clippers and other sharp objects.
Before I proceed, let me share with you the means through which HIV cannot be transmitted. They are; mosquito bites, hugging or dancing with an HIV patient, Sharing toilet, food or dishes, caring for a person with AIDS, sharing the same toilet seats, swimming pool etc.
I’m I at risk of Contracting HIV/AIDS?
I have heard many people indirectly asked me this question. The only answer I have provided for them is place a self-evaluation questionnaire in front of them and then asked to answer my YES or NO questions. The questionnaire contains 4 questions which can easily tell if the respondent is at risk or not. Below is the same form presented for you to fill in order for you to be able to respond to the answer yourself.
- Do you have more than one sex partner?
- Is it possible your sex partner has sex with other people?
- Do you have sex without using condoms?
- Have you ever had an STD like gonorrhea?
If you have answered “YES” to any of these questions, you are at risk of having HIV. Then, I will advice you to go for the Ultimate Decision which is to get tested.
Getting an HIV Test
It is important to know if you have HIV or not. I have seen many people panicked when they were told to go for an HIV test. I am sure those people are culprits of the questions raised above. An HIV test is just for you to know your status. You can do this by having an HIV blood test. It is quick and totally confidential. You will be counselled before taking the test and on what to do when you get the result.
Caring for People with HIV/AIDS
This is very important to be as a n health worker. We have always preached against Stigmatization. Therefore, if your friend or family member is infected with HIV, then, he /she need your support. With a positive attitude, healthy lifestyle and caring companions; an HIV positive person can still live an active and fulfilling life. You contract AIDS by caring.
How can you be safe?
If you have done an HIV test before or planning to go for one, please take note that being positive is not the end of the world. All you need to do is to stick to your treatment counselor and use your anti-retroviral drugs regularly. However, if you are negative, I will say congratulations but it doesn’t end there. The next question you ought to ask yourself is how you can be safe.
Before marriage, avoid sex altogether or use a condom every time you have sex. Every health practitioner or counselor will always advice that Abstinence is the best means of not contracting the disease. So, if you have that opportunity, abstained from sexual practices, but if you cannot, ensure you use a condom. If you are married, protect yourself and your family.
Be faithful to your spouse(s) or use a condom for every sex act outside marriage. If you have discomfort, and suspect an STD (sexually transmitted diseases), go to the hospital for proper treatment. Do not share needles, razors clippers or other sharp object. Ensure the blood or blood products that you will be receiving are screened and confirmed free from HIV.
What if I’m tested positive to HIV/AIDS?
If you are positive, you don’t need to panic, there is no cause for alarm, just relax and listen to the instructions that will be passed across to you by your doctor or an HIV counselor. I will not want to disseminate such information here because it is not my major aim, but all I need you to do is to trust your treatment Doctors when they place you on any particular drugs or routine check.
Is there a cure?
For now, there is no substantiated cure for the disease. The purported cures that have trolled the world have not held up to scrutiny or time. The virus in most of those asserted to be functionally cured is later found out to reappear. However, the only cured HIV patient who seems to be valid till date is the case of Timothy Brown (referred to as Berlin Patient) who was reportedly made to undergo a bone marrow transplant when treated for cancer.
How soon will the cure be found?
I do tell people not to expect a cure soon, this is because for this type of disease, the curing is a long process and each stage has a road block that must be overcomed before the real curing is ascertained source. In infected humans (where the virus can only survive), there are several cells connected to body tissues and organs where pockets of virus are enclosed (reservoirs) even when the virus is still in early stage.
HIV budding BY C. Goldsmith - CC BY 3.0, link
New viruses are produced everyday by these infected cells if not treated using Anti-retroviral drugs. The major step to break through that can lead to the cure of HIV is to find the reservoir sites (i.e places in the body where the virus is hiding). You can now imagine how difficult that will be if a copy of the virus is enclosed in sensitive parts of the body such as the brain, liver, gut or even the immune cells.
We also need to understand that this virus always “go to sleep” (undetected) in these reservoirs source. Therefore, for doctors to know what they want to treat, they must first find a way to “wake up” this virus hiding in their reservoirs in order to make them visible for treatments. However, any scientists who wants to activate this virus in their reservoirs must ensure he avoid making undetected patient sick, else it becomes a time bomb.
But once the virus can be detected in their reservoirs, we can start talking about an effective method to to clear off the infected cells and treat the origin of the virus from the body. However, the success in all these stages does not guarantee its curing. An example is the Mississippi baby who appeared cured after these treatments but was later re-diagnosed to have the virus source. Therefore, total curing involves a long term treatment and monitoring therapy.
my advice to you if you are positive to HIV is to adhere to your Anti-Retroviral Drugs.
What is Drug Adherence?
Drug Adherence is the sticking to your programme, in this case, it means taking the drugs you are supposed to take on time and every time.
Essential steps to make you adhere to your drugs
Prepare yourself: you need to accept that you have the virus and ready to start taking your drugs. Do not have a test-run attitude. Pull yourself together mentally to take the drugs on time, everytime as long as you are living.
Take care of other Essentials: be sure to take care of other problems that may hinder your being a drug adherent such as drug abuse, alcohol binge or depression.
Always ask for simpler drug regimen: some HIV regiment requires that a client take between 3-15 drugs several times a day. This may make you to miss your drugs, hence, ask your physician if other drug combinations are available that will reduce the number of drugs you will take per day. In my environs, drugs like "TRIVIRO LNS 30, LAVUDINE SNP 30 and NEVILAST 40 are the drugs that are serving this purpose by reducing the numbernof drugs from three to one.
Woman consults with a Pharmacist BY Rhoda Baer - CC BY 3.0, link
Be time conscious: always find a method to remind you of the time your drugs are due to be taken. Good enough, there are computer gadgets and phones that can remind someoone of important events.
Do not succumb to side effects: there is every possibility that some of the HIV medications have side effects that can discourage one to continue with the regimen. Nevertheless, this may not be a good reason to stop taking the drugs. Consult your treatment supporter or pysician whenever you notice any side effects from the drugs taken.
Look for support: You will always need the assistance of people close to you. Therefore, inform your trusted family members about your status, the type of drugs you take and when you are supposed to take them. Ask them to always remind and support you on the fight against the virus.
Enrolment with the support group could be fantastic. Sharing experiences with people of similar case as yours can be wonderful and encouraging. Hence, inquire about support groups and join one if avalaible.
Thank you for Reading
Prevention is better than cure. Please consult your Medical Doctor for guidance on all health related issues
Thank you for Reading
All Images Used In This Article, Are Linked To The Respective Owners
| REFERENCES |
●World Health Organisation: HIV/AIDS http://www.who.int/news-room/facts-in-pictures/detail/hiv-aids
●World Health Organisation: Facts file on HIV/AIDS http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/hiv/facts/en/index8.html
●Health concerns questions on HIV/AIDS http://home.bt.com/lifestyle/health/health-concerns/could-i-have-hiv-and-not-know-it-6-questions-about-the-condition-answered-11364021333214
●nHIHAF HIV/AIDS foundation http://hihaf.org/how-is-hiv-transmitted/
●Avert: Global information and Education on HIV and AIDS https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/nigeria
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