HIV/AIDS; communities makes the difference.

                What HIV/AIDS?

HIV is a virus that attacks cells in the immune system, which is our body’s natural defense against illness. The virus destroys a type of white blood cell in the immune system called a T-helper cell and makes copies of itself inside these cells. T-helper cells are also referred to as CD4 cells.

In order to reduce the mortality and morbidity of "HIV/AIDS", December 1st of every year is designated as " World AIDS day". This year's theme is based on "communities makes difference" which is aimed at recognizing the vital roles everyone such as youths, women, men, adults, health workers, community  leaders, stakeholders, media organizations and other institutions among  in the community are playing towards the reduction of HIV/AIDS infection at all levels.

As HIV destroys more CD4 cells and makes more copies of itself, it gradually weakens a person’s immune system. This means that someone who has HIV, and isn’t taking antiretroviral treatment, will find it harder and harder to fight off infections and diseases.
 The most advanced stage of HIV infection is acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which can take from 2 to 15 years to develop if not treated, depending on the individual. AIDS is defined by the development of certain cancers, infections or other severe clinical manifestations.

             HIV/AIDS Transmission

  • Sexual contact with an infected partner.
  • Sharing needles, syringes, and other injecting equipment.
  • From mother to baby before or during birth or by breastfeeding.
  • Sharing sex toys with someone infected with HIV.
  • Healthcare workers accidentally pricking themselves with an infected needle, but this risk is extremely low.
  • Blood transfusion, which is very rare in the UK, but still a problem in developing countries like Nigerian and Indian.

Ways HIV/AIDS is not transmitted:

HIV/AIDS is not transmitted through: 

  • Ordinary body contact
  • Hugging.
  • Dancing.
  • Shaking hands.
  • Kissing.
  • Sharing toilets or bathrooms.

          HIV/AIDS Risk factors

HIV can infect anyone whose blood comes into contact with an infected person's blood, breast milk, or sexual fluids. Some people engage in behaviors that place them at higher than normal risk. For example:
  • Risky and unprotected sexual behaviors, such as having sex without a condom and having multiple sex partners, can increase someone's chance of getting infected. These sexual risk behaviors are common among teens and young adults, who have very high rates of HIV infection.
  • Sexual intercourse with men and individuals who have anal sex are at high risk of infection. 
  • Foetus or infant exposure to the virus before or during birth or through breastfeeding from a mother who is HIV positive.
  • People with other sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, bacterial vaginosis, and herpes, increase their risk of getting infected if they are exposed to the virus through sex or blood exposure. 
  • Use of drugs can increase HIV/AIDS risk of infection. Drug use can also make people take risks they would not ordinarily take, like having risky and unprotected sex.
  • Having sexual intercourse with infected partners.
  • Sharing needles or syringes to inject drugs or steroids can pass the virus.
  • People who received blood products, organ transplants without been screened are at high risk of getting infected.

HIV/AIDS signs and symptoms.

The only way to be certain if an individual is infected with HIV is to get tested. There are several symptoms of HIV. Not everyone will have the same symptoms. It depends on the person and what stage of the disease they are in.
Below are the three stages of HIV and some of the symptoms people may exper

Stage 1: Acute HIV Infection

This happens within 2 to 4 weeks after infection with HIV, about two-thirds of people will have a flu-like illness. This is the body’s natural response to HIV infection.
Flu-like symptoms which include:
  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Rash.
  • Night sweats.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Sore throat.
  • Fatigue.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Mouth ulcers
The above symptoms can last from a few days to several weeks. But some people do not have any symptoms at all during this early stage of HIV.

Stage 2: Clinical Latency

In this stage, the virus still multiplies, but at very low levels. People in this stage may not feel sick or have any symptoms. This stage is also called chronic HIV infection.
Without HIV treatment, people can stay in this stage for 10 or 15 years, but some move through this stage faster.

Stage 3: AIDS

If an individual is diagnosed with HIV and not on HIV treatment, eventually the virus will weaken the individual's body’s immune system and will progress to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). This is the late stage of HIV infection.
Symptoms of AIDS include:
  • Rapid weight loss.
  • Recurring fever or profuse night sweats.
  • Extreme and unexplained tiredness.
  • Prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck.
  • Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week.
  • Sores of the mouth, and genitals.
  • pneumonia.
  • Brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids.
  • Memory loss.
  • Depression, and other neurologic disorders.

        HIV/AIDS complications.

HIV complications may include:
  • Candidiasis: This fungal infection causes a thick, white coating to form on the skin, nails, and mucous membranes. Candidiasis commonly affects the mouth, vagina, and esophagus (food tube). When the infection occurs in the vagina, it is generally known as a vaginal yeast infection. When it affects the mouth, it is known as oral thrush.
  • Coccidioidomycosis: A fungal infection that usually affects the lungs, coccidioidomycosis results from inhaling fungal spores that are common in hot, dry regions. It causes a form of pneumonia called desert fever.
  • Cryptococcosis: This fungal infection enters the body through the lungs, leading to pneumonia. It can then spread to the brain, where it causes swelling. It also commonly affects the bones, skin, and urinary tract.
  • Cryptosporidiosis: People can contact this infection by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the intestinal parasite Cryptosporidium. It causes severe and persistent diarrhea. 
  • Cytomegalovirus: Cytomegalovirus is a viral infection that can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), retina of the eye (retinitis), stomach (gastroenteritis), and other organs.
  • Herpes simplex (HSV): HSV is a common virus that affects many people, occasionally causing sores around the mouth or genitals. But for people with HIV, it can be especially problematic and lead to recurrent sores. It may also infect the bronchus (breathing tube) or esophagus, or lead to pneumonia.
  • Histoplasmosis: The fungus Histoplasma capsulatum typically infects the lungs, causing symptoms of pneumonia. People with later stage HIV may be more likely to develop a severe form of histoplasmosis that affects other organs too.
  • Isosporiasis: Eating contaminated food or water can cause an isosporiasis infection. In those with HIV, symptoms of isosporiasis can be severe and include diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and weight loss.
  • Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC): Different types of mycobacteria can cause this infection, which rarely affects people without HIV. In those with HIV, especially stage 3 HIV, this bacterial infection can be life-threatening.
  • Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP): PCP is a fungal lung infection that causes breathing problems, a dry cough, and fever.
  • Pneumonia: Pneumonia can cause fever and chills. Pneumonia is a lung condition that results from an infection by one of several bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Symptoms of pneumonia include chills, difficulty breathing, fever, and a wet cough. It can be life-threatening in people with HIV.
  • Toxoplasmosis: Cats, rodents, and other animals often carry the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. When transmitted to humans, it can affect the eyes, lungs, heart, liver, and more. If it reaches the brain, toxoplasmosis can cause seizures. Toxoplasmosis may develop if a person with a weakened immune system comes into contact with cat litter and other sources of animal feces. It can also come from eating undercooked red meat and pork.
  •  Tuberculosis (TB): TB is a bacterial infection of the lungs that leads to symptoms such as a cough, fatigue, fever, and weight loss. It may spread to other areas of the body too.TB is one of the most common opportunistic infections causing death in people with HIV. It is less common in the United States than in some other countries because medications for HIV are widely available.
  • Neurological conditions: HIV is associated with complications such as anxiety, confusion, depression, and dementia.
  • Wasting syndrome: People with this condition lose at least 10 percent of their body weight and experience diarrhea, fever, or weakness for at least 1 month. This complication is less common today, thanks to better HIV treatments.

      HIV/AIDS prevention.

There is no vaccine to prevent HIV infection and no cure for AIDS. But individuals can protect themselves and others from being infected.
  • Use a new condom at every contact of sex( vaginal, oral or anal). 
  • Water-based lubricants instead of oil-based lubricants can weaken condoms and cause them to break.
  • During oral sex use a nonlubricated, cut-open condom or a dental dam (a piece of medical-grade latex).
  • Do not reuse condoms.
  • Do not ingest urine or semen.
  • Avoid having unprotected sex.
  • Reduce sexual partners to one. 
  • Consider preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The combination drugs emtricitabine plus tenofovir (Truvada) and emtricitabine plus tenofovir alafenamide (Descovy) can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted HIV infection in people at very high risk. There is a need to take the drugs every day. They don't prevent other STIs, so there is a need to practice safe sex.
  • Avoid sharing needles, razors, toothbrushes, sex toys or blood-contaminated articles.
  • Health care practitioners should practice "standard precautions" such as hand hygiene, personal protective equipment (gloves, gowns, masks and eye protection).
  • Do not recap, bend break or manipulate used needles.
  • Health care workers should report immediately to the supervisor if being pricked by needles while caring for patients for proper interventions.
  • Consider male circumcision. There is evidence that male circumcision can help reduce the risk of getting HIV infection.

HIV infection can be reduced in the society if prompt interventions are embarked on. The collaboration of every individual in the community is essential in advocating for the reduction of HIV/AIDS AIDS  in the community.

Find This Helpful?

1 comment:

  1. This is very insightful!
    I do know better now.
    Thank you.


Hey Friend! This conversation is missing your voice. Drop your comment before you go. #Winks