AIDS: Early detection, best prevention!

AIDS and HIV Infection

One fine day, Tilak started facing severe flu-like symptoms. Five months later, he was diagnosed with a Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. He started taking medicines, one pill daily. And within two months his viral load became undetectable. Tilak is very open about his diagnosis, eats well, exercises often and is in good health now.
He encourages regular testing. Because there are only two ways of knowing if a person has HIV- either by getting tested or by becoming unwell!

HIV attacks the body’s immune system. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection, where patients develop badly damaged immune systems with a risk of opportunistic infections and death. There is no cure for AIDS. The idea is to not let your immune system deteriorate and give yourself a chance to survive.

World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1st to raise awareness on the prevention and diagnosis caused by HIV infection among millions of people worldwide. Get Tested, Read, and Talk about it with your friends, family and colleague and promote World AIDS Day.

Fast facts:

  •    More than 2 million young people aged 10-19 are living with HIV.
  •    According to 2013 figures, an estimated 3.2 million children are affected by HIV.

 

How is HIV Transmitted?

HIV spreads from an infected person to another person through direct contact with some body fluids like blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, breast milk.

Transmission occurs through the following ways:

  • Sexual Contact: A sexual intercourse with someone infected with HIV. Chances of infection increase when one has multiple sex partners and unprotected sex.
  • Injection Drug Use: Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment used to prepare injection drugs with an HIV infected person.
  • Pregnancy, Childbirth and Breastfeeding: From an HIV-infected mother to child.
  • Occupational exposure: Health care workers can get infected with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp objects.

HIV rarely gets transmitted through contaminated blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants, contact between broken skin, wounds, or mucous membranes.

HIV is not spread through saliva, tears, sweat, casual contact, like shaking hands, hugging or sharing dishes/drinking glasses, air, water, and insects, including mosquitoes or ticks.

 

Reduce the Risk of Exposure to HIV

1. Get examined: Get your partner and yourself tested for an HIV infection and before you plan for a sexual intercourse.

2. Use protection: Use a condom every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Learn to use the condoms correctly.

3. Limit the number of sexual partners: If you have more than one sexual partner, get tested for HIV regularly. Get yourself and your partners tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) since an STI can increase your risk of becoming infected with HIV.

4. Know about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP): PrEP is an HIV prevention method that involves taking an HIV medicine every day. PrEP is intended for people who don’t have HIV but who are at high risk of sexually transmitted HIV infection. PrEP should always be combined with other prevention methods, including condom use.

5. Don’t inject drugs: In case you do, use only sterile drug injection equipment and water and never share your equipment with others. Also, screening of blood products can prevent transmission of HIV virus.

6. Get tested if you are planning a pregnancy: Get tested for HIV when you are thinking about a pregnancy or immediately after you find out you are pregnant. Taking antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy, labour, and delivery, having a C-section, and avoiding breastfeeding can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to your baby if you are tested HIV-positive.

Did you know?

According to a study, mosquitoes can retain the AIDS virus in their bodies for two or three days after ingesting infected blood but they are incapable of transmitting this virus.

Prevention and early detection are the only steps to prevent death from an HIV infection.

Sources:

  1. WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION. ACCESSED NOV 26, 2015.
  2. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION. ACCESSED NOV 25, 2015.
  3. AIDS. GOV. ACCESSED NOV 27, 2015.