- AIDS is a chronic, life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
- AIDS means ‘acquired immune deficiency syndrome’. AIDS is the later stages of an HIV infection.
- By damaging or destroying the cells of your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to effectively fight off viruses, bacteria and fungi that cause disease. This makes you more susceptible to certain types of cancers and to opportunistic infections your body would normally resist, such as pneumonia and meningitis.
- HIV means ‘human immunodeficiency virus’. As with all other kinds of virus, HIV does not have an individual metabolism and, therefore, has to attack other living cells and use their metabolism to make copies of itself.
- Unfortunately, HIV attacks some of the cells that are vital to a healthy immune system, including the white blood cells known as T-helper cells or CD4 cells.
Who is at risk?
HIV transcends all cultures, national borders and religions. Anyone of any age, race, sex or sexual orientation can be infected, but you’re at greatest risk of HIV/AIDS if you:
- Have unprotected sex with multiple partners. You’re at risk whether you’re heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. Unprotected sex means having sex without using a new latex or polyurethane condom every time.
- Have unprotected sex with someone who is HIV-positive.
- Have another sexually transmitted disease, such as syphilis, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea or bacterial vaginosis.
- Share needles during intravenous drug use.
- Have received a blood transfusion.
Screening and Diagnosis
- For those of us who are HIV-infected, it is important to be tested as early as possible, so that our doctor can monitor our health and begin therapy when it will be most effective.
- For those of us who are not HIV-infected, being tested can help reduce anxiety and provide an opportunity to personalize our own HIV-prevention plan with a trained counselor.
- An HIV-Antibody test is a blood test that detects HIV-antibodies in your blood. The presence of HIV antibodies in the blood shows that the person has been infected.
- As the virus reproduces in the body, the antibodies become weaker and unable to fight the virus.
New and more efficient treatments to fight HIV and reduce the content of virus in the blood are being developed all the time.
Unfortunately, HIV is a very efficient virus that can change some of its own characteristics, mutate and create new HIV variants, which are resistant to the medicines used in treatment.
To reduce the risk of developing resistance to the medication and fight the virus from several directions, you will be offered a treatment that includes several types of medication.
- Antiviral medicines against HIV that stop the virus from spreading in the body. You will not be cured and you are still contagious, but the treatment strengthens the immune system so that your risk of getting ill is reduced. It is still not known how long the effects of the treatment will last.
- Vaccination against illnesses such as flu, pneumonia, and infectious hepatitis.
- Treatment of the symptoms connected with HIV infection and AIDS, for instance treatment of nausea and loss of appetite.
- If you do not have anyone to talk to about the situation, you might like to visit your GP, a counselor with relevant experience, or a psychologist.
- You should discuss your worries and the depression that often follows the discovery you are HIV-positive.
- You should be treated for all infections and illnesses that result from the HIV virus. If serious, you will have to be treated in the hospital.
- The earlier the diagnosis is made, the more effective the treatment. If you have been exposed to infection, you should undergo a test, even if you still feel healthy.
- Contact AIDS and HIV support groups.
- Make sure you eat a varied and healthy diet as the disease affects the digestive system.
- Proper supplementation will help a person maintain a well- balanced diet and thus help to inhibit viral activity and stimulate immune function.
- Co-enzyme Q10 – a powerful antioxidant and significant immune stimulant. Helps increase circulation and energy.
- Alpha Lipoic acid – a powerful antioxidant to prevent free radical damage.
- Essential fatty acids – important element for cell repair.
- Multivitamin- Comprises most of the Vitamin and mineral to help prevent the nutrient/ micronutrient depletion. Studies also shown that multivitamin supplement delay the progression of HIV disease and delay the initiation of antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected women.
*Consult a pharmacist at Lovy Pharmacy when choosing a supplement for your condition.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”10vh”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
There’s no vaccine to prevent HIV infection and no cure for AIDS. But it’s possible to protect yourself and others from infection. That means educating yourself about HIV and avoiding any behavior that allows HIV-infected fluids (blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk) entering your body.
If you’re HIV-negative:
- Educate yourself and others.
- Know the HIV status of any sexual partner.
- Use a new latex or polyurethane condom every time you have sex.
- Use a clean needle. If you use a needle to inject drugs, make sure it’s sterile, and don’t share it.
If you’re HIV-positive:
- Follow safe sex practices.
- Tell your sexual partner(s) you have HIV.
- If your partner is pregnant, tell her you have HIV. She needs to receive treatment to protect her own health and that of her baby.
- Tell others who need to know. This is not just to protect them, but also to ensure that you get the best possible medical care.
- Don’t share needles or syringes.
- Don’t donate blood or organs. The virus will spread to other people.
- Don’t share razor blades or toothbrushes.
- If you’re pregnant, get medical care right away.