HIV infection is an infection that can cause AIDS to develop. However, it is possible to contract HIV without developing AIDS. Without treatment, HIV can progress and, eventually, it will develop into AIDS in the vast majority of cases.
WHAT IS HIV/AIDS?
HIV(human immunodeficiency virus) is a sexually transmitted infection. The HIV virus breaks down certain cells in your immune system (your body’s defense against diseases that helps you stay healthy).
When HIV damages immune system, it’s easier to get sick and even die from infections if you didn't start treatment on time.
AIDS(acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a syndrome caused HIV. The disease alters the immune system, making people much more exposed to other infections and diseases. This susceptibility worsens if the syndrome progresses.
TRANSMISSION OF HIV/AIDS
◼Sexual transmission — HIV can be transferred when there is contact with infected sexual fluids (rectal, genital, or oral mucous membranes). This can happen while having sex without a condom, including vaginal, oral, and anal sex, or sharing sex toys with someone who is HIV-positive.
◼Perinatal transmission — a mother can transmit HIV to her child during childbirth, pregnancy, and also through breastfeeding.
◼Blood transmission — HIV can be transmitted among people who inject drugs, sharing and reusing syringes contaminated with HIV-infection.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HIV/AIDS
◼sweats (particularly at night)
◼unintentional weight loss
◻diarrhea, which is usually persistent or chronic
◻fever lasting for weeks
◻shortness of breath
◻swollen glands lasting for weeks
◻unintentional weight loss
◻white spots on the tongue or mouth.
TREATMENT OF HIV/AIDS
✔Emergency HIV pills (post-exposure prophylaxis)
If you realized that you have been exposed to the virus within the last 72 hours (3 days), anti-HIV medications, called PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) may stop infection. The treatment should be taken as soon as possible after contact with the virus.
HIV is treated with antiretrovirals (ARVs). The drug fights the HIV infection and slows down the spread of the virus in the body. Generally, people living with HIV take a combination of medications called HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) or cART (combination antiretroviral therapy).
There are a number of subgroups of antiretrovirals; these include:
° Protease inhibitors
° Integrase inhibitors
° Nucleoside or nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)
° Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)
NNRTIs work in a similar way to NRTIs, making it more difficult for HIV to multiply.
PREVENTION OF HIV/AIDS
◼Use a new condom every time you have sex. If you don't know the HIV status of your partner, use a new condom every time you have anal or vaginal sex. Women can use a female condom.
◼Tell your sexual partners if you have HIV. It's important to tell anyone with whom you've had sex that you're HIV-positive. Your partners need to be tested and to receive medical care if they have the virus. They also need to know their HIV status so that they don't infect others.
◼Use a clean needle. If you use a needle to inject drugs, make sure it's sterile and don't share it. Take advantage of needle-exchange programs in your community and consider seeking help for your drug use.
◼If you're pregnant, get medical care right away. If you're HIV-positive, you may pass the infection to your baby. But if you receive treatment during pregnancy, you can cut your baby's risk significantly.
Written By: Abubakar Bukola, RN
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