HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, while AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is untreated infection by HIV that leads to AIDS.
There is still no cure yet for HIV, but there are drugs that can help you manage the condition & live a fairly normal life.
There are over 3 million persons living with HIV in Nigeria & that figure is still increasing. Only South Africa has more cases than Nigeria in Africa.
What is the cause of HIV?
The disease is caused by a virus known as the HIV virus. There are two strains of the virus, known as Type 1 and Type 2.
The average time from infection with HIV to the development of AIDS in adults is 9 yrs, if untreated. It can also happen earlier or later than that.
AIDS is defined by the appearance in the body of certain opportunistic infections, tumours, and other clinical features.
How is HIV Transmitted
HIV is transmitted by the following means:
- By sexual contact: Unprotected sexual intercourse is the commonest method by which the virus is spread from one person to another.
- Exposure to blood: this is another means of spread of the virus. It includes means such as blood transfusion, or contact with blood in the sharing of sharp objects like clippers, manicure & pedicure kits, etc.
If you go to cut your hair, & the barber uses an unsterilized clipper that has been used on someone with HIV, & cuts the person in the process & then use the same on you, possibly cutting you as well. You can contact the virus.
This is also the same for Drug users who share needles, Those who go for tattoos. Hepatitis can also be transmitted in this way.
- Another transmission is from mother to child in the womb, during delivery of the child, or through breastfeeding, especially by mothers who are not taking their medications.
What are the Symptoms of HIV
- Weight loss
- Sore throat
- Swelling is seen around your armpits or groin.
- Joint or muscle pains
- Ulcers in the mouth or genitals.
- some persons may have rashes.
- Many other skin manifestations.
Management/Treatment of HIV
As we mentioned earlier, there is no permanent cure yet for HIV, but there are a number of drugs available that can help reduce the strength of the virus (viral load), and help you live a fairly normal life. These are known as Anti-retroviral drugs (HAART).
These drugs help you to;
- Reduce the viral strength/load for as long as possible.
- Improve your immunity
- Prolong life
- Reduce transmission (especially mother to child). You can be pregnant & give birth to an HIV-negative baby, as long as you are consistent with your medications.
Anyone suspecting symptoms of HIV should visit the hospital & see a doctor immediately.
In addition to these drugs, the following would help you prevent the development of other infections;
- Always use pure water. Avoid contaminated water.
- Barrier contraception: always use a condom whenever you want to engage in intercourse for the protection of your partner.
- Malaria vector control with the use of mosquito nets.
- Vaccination helps in protecting against pneumonia & influenza.
Prevention of HIV
This is by avoidance of the risk factors that lead to infection with the virus such as;
- Always practice safe sex
- Do not share sharp instruments like clippers, manicures & pedicure kits razors, etc.
- Always ensure that blood is screened properly before transfusion.
- Do not engage in Illicit drug use/abuse.
An HIV-free generation is possible. It begins with you. Share the awareness!!