What is HIV?
Let’s simply call it the virus that causes AIDS because scientists call it Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which gets boring, isn’t it? Fam, HIV attacks the body’s immune system and weakens it defenses against diseases thus making the body vulnerable to a number of life-threatening infections and cancers. Dudes and dudettes, HIV is infectious meaning it can be transmitted from one person to another.
What is AIDS?
Damn! We are sorry but we might get scientific here. Okay If left untreated, HIV will almost always deplete the immune system leaving the body vulnerable to one or more life-threatening diseases that normally do not affect healthy people. This stage of HIV infection is called AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. The more the immune system has been damaged, the greater the risk of death from opportunistic infections (infections that take advantage of weakness in the immune defenses).
How is HIV transmitted?
Well well well, they are very many ways. Shall we explore?
- Unprotected sex. Let’s call this live sex. Live sex means having sex (vaginal, anal or oral) without using a condom. Mehn if you have live sex with a dude or a shawty, it means you are at risk of HIV as well as sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Exposure to infected blood. Transfusion of infected blood through use of improperly sterilized syringes and other medical equipment in healthcare settings can result in HIV transmission. It is always a good idea to avoid direct exposure to another person’s blood – to avoid not only HIV but also hepatitis and other blood – borne infections.
- Transmission from a mother living with HIV to her child. During pregnancy, during delivery, or as a result of breastfeeding.
- HIV, however, is not transmitted through shaking hands, hugging or kissing, coming into contact with saliva, sharing food or sharing eating or drinking utensils, being bitten by a mosquito or any other insect and working, socializing or living side by side with people living with HIV.
Signs and Symptoms
During the early stages of HIV infection i.e. 2-4 weeks, one may experience a flu- like illness but this may not happen to everyone. These flu-like symptoms may include; fever, night sweats, rash, chills, fatigue, mouth ulcers and swollen lymph nodes
After the early stages of HIV, it turns chronic HIV infection. It’s important to note that during this stage, HIV is still active but reproduces at very low levels. More to that, people with chronic HIV infection may not have any HIV-related symptoms, or only mild ones.
Getting to learn that you are infected with HIV can change your life dramatically. You may experience a wide range of emotions- fear, loss, grief, depression, denial, anger, and anxiety. During this period, taking care of one’s health by taking their medication is key so that to prevent the viral load from multiplying. It’s also good to get onto a balanced as guided by your dietician or nutritionist.
Having your loved ones by your side .i.e your parents, family, relatives and friends can help you remain positive and happy as you progress to better health.
HIV testing and counselling can be carried out at any medical hospital or clinic but it’s better to visit your nearest youth friendly service centre for HCT services. Here is the list of clinics which offer youth friendly services