32 years have elapsed since the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) was discovered. The initial hysteria and fears about HIV and AIDS has diminished considerably in the intervening years. However, the risks of people acquiring HIV are still serious and still present.
There are two main varients of HIV found, HIV-1 in most nations and HIV-2 mainly found in Africa. In the literature and population, the name “HIV” refers to HIV-1. The main type of direct damage from HIV is the damage to CD4+T blood cells, commonly called “T-cells”. T-cells are very important to our defences against disease micro-organisms.
The late stage of HIV infection is AIDS, Auto-Immune Deficiency Syndrome. This happens when the body is severely compromised and has trouble battling disease and some cancers. People who are unaware they have been infected by HIV may experience AIDS after only a few years following the initial infection.
Some folks develop “flu-like” symptoms within only a few weeks after infection with HIV. The illness may manifest for a week or so, then disappear. Other people who get infected might not experience any symptoms. They might feel and look healthy for many years. The problem, though, is that HIV is still sabotaging the immune system.
It’s important to note, that if a person is tested and if the test for HIV is positive, then treatment can begin which will prolong good health and increase the life span of the individual. The earlier that HIV is detected, the better for the person. If the HIV test comes up negative, then the person can relax without the uncertainty of whether she or he has HIV/AIDS. So, the test is of great benefit regardless of the test results.
Even though the treatments for HIV are highly effective, there are personal costs to the patient’s well-being in the form of side-effects. Also, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS. Obviously, that means prevention is all important regarding this disease. You need to know if you are at high risk for acquiring HIV. Even if you are at a reasonably low risk of getting HIV, it’s still a good idea to get tested just to put your mind at ease.
Many people are reluctant to discuss the manner that HIV is spread and transmitted because sexual behavior is one of the major ways in which to become infected.
1. Unprotected heterosexual and homosexual insertive sex is very risky behavior. Not using a condom during an encounter increases the risks greatly.
2. If you or your partner have multiple sex partners or if there is the presence of other sexually transmitted diseases the risks increase even more.
3. Unprotected heterosexual or homosexual oral relations can be risky, but is not nearly as dangerous as anal or vaginal sex.
4. Intravenous drug users are at immense risk if they share needles, syringes, rinses and other equipment used in the preparation of illicit drugs.
5. Infants can be born with HIV during pregnancy or at birth. Children can also get infected when breast feeding from an HIV infected mother.
6. Healthcare workers are at risk if they are accidentally stuck with a contaminated needle or other sharp instrument.
If you are involved in any of the above conditions, you should consider getting tested for HIV. If you are sexually active you certainly need to prevent HIV infection. Hopefully, you are already practicing safer sex. You should be limiting the numbers of partners and avoid physical relations with anybody whose sexual history is unknown. Remember to use condoms properly from start to finish each time you have sex.
The points to remember are these:
1. Play safely
2. Get tested
Today is National HIV Testing Day. Take advantage of it now.
The Blue Jay of Happiness has this important link for you: http://hivtest.cdc.gov/Default.aspx