World AIDS Day remains a time to reassess the efforts we are making in the fight against the virus.
This year focuses on continually building resilient care services around the globe in the light of the recent Corona virus pandemic including accessing individual country progress.
Going over the basics of the disease is surely a good idea as information remains a potent tool to improve public awareness and guide individual decisions.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus which causes the HIV infection. The most advanced stage of this infection is AIDS which occurs when an HIV positive individual does not receive treatment;
AIDS means Acquired immune deficiency syndrome; Immune deficiency has to do with a weakness in the immune system that helps to fight diseases thus people with AIDS are prone to many other diseases example tuberculosis.
How is it spread?
HIV is found in body fluids such as blood, semen, pre seminal fluids, vagina fluids, breast milk and rectal fluid.
Common ways in which the virus can be spread
– Having unprotected sex this include Vagina, Oral and anal sex and also engaging in unsafe sexual practices with an HIV positive individual or persons
-By sharing needles with someone who has the virus, now this can be seen in drug abusers.
-The virus can also be spread from a pregnant woman who is HIV positive to her child, it’s also spread through, child birth and during breast feeding.
– Sharing tattoo equipment without sterilization between use
-Through exposure to the blood of someone living with HIV such as through a needle stick. Health workers are prone to needle stick injuries
-Through blood transfusion of blood that was not properly screened.
HIV is not found in sweat, saliva, tears and therefore the virus cannot be spread through hugging an individual or having casual contact with one.
The virus cannot be spread by sharing a toilet, towels or bedding with an HIV positive individual or through a mosquito or insect bite.
Symptoms of HIV
Early symptoms include fever, chills, skin rash, sore throat, body pains, swollen lymph node. Other symptoms occur when the immune system has been severely weakened.
These include rapid weight loss , recurrent fever and night sweats, sores on the mouths , anus and genitals, bruises and bleeding that can’t be explained , recurrent or chronic diarrhea , bumps or legions on the skin.
There is also a presence of opportunistic infections (occur in persons with weakened immunity) like pneumonia, tuberculosis and other sexually transmitted diseases.
You can’t rely on symptoms to know if you have HIV or AIDS, the best way is to get tested. Fortunately there are a large variety of do-it-yourself kits in the market, all you need do is visit the nearest pharmacy.
How can the risk of getting HIV be reduced?
1) Practicing safe sex using condoms
2) Limiting the number of sexual partners
3) Avoid sharing injection and other piercing instruments
4)The use of PREP and PEP
HIV has no cure but it can be managed by using medicines that helps prevent HIV from progressing to AIDS and it can be prevented also by using PrEP or PEP.
Pre exposure prophylaxis (PREP) is taken by individuals who are at risk of getting HIV and hence are taken at points where there is a risk of infection and Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is for those who may have been exposed to the virus and it is usually taken within 72 hours of exposure.
The management of HIV and the use of PEP and PREP has made it possible for an HIV positive mother to give birth to a HIV negative baby.
Interestingly, an HIV negative partner may have sexual intercourse with his HIV positive partner without the fear of transmission provided the negative partner adheres to the PrEP strictly.
PEP is also useful in cases of rape or sexual assault; the victims are given PEP to prevent getting infected by the virus.
Talk to your health care provider and stay safe.
Pharm. Emmanuel Bosco Otite