The Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV, is responsible for the disease Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, AIDS, that had devastating effects in the world. More than two-thirds of the total infected people worldwide – some 35 million people – were of African origin, of whom 15 million have already died.
HIV/AIDS lowers life expectancy in many African nations. The virus affects individuals by weakening their immune system to the point they will have AIDS. This might take years. The infected people are then left extremely vulnerable to contracting diseases with decreasing ability of fighting them off. Additionally, the lower the patient’s immunity sinks, the more he/she becomes at risk for developing certain diseases like the Kaposi’s Sarcoma (a cancer).
HIV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can also spread by contact with infected blood or body fluids or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but medications can dramatically slow the progression of the disease. These drugs have significantly reduced AIDS related deaths.
HIV destroys CD4 T-cells — white blood cells that play a large role in helping your body fight diseases. The fewer CD4 T-cells you have, the weaker your immune system becomes.
You can have an HIV infection with few or no symptoms for years before the progression to AIDS. AIDS is diagnosed when the CD4 T-cell count falls below a certain threshold or you have an AIDS-defining complication, such as a serious infection or cancer. In the United Republic of Tanzania treatment with antiretroviral medication starts immediately when tested positive for HIV irrespective of the CD4 T-cell count, therefore slowing down above mentioned progression.
It is important to understand what are the risk behaviors and how HIV spreads from one person to another.
Primary prevention is to ensure you have only one sexual partner. Avoid having sex randomly, if it happens be sure to use a new condom every time. There is evidence that male circumcision can help reduce the risk of getting HIV infection.
If you are living with HIV, it is important to be open and honest about the disease. Be sure to tell your partner of your status and get tested together. Follow health care advices.
At Urban Care we promise high level of confidentiality as well as a destigmatizing approach to your care. Book a consultation by writing to us on firstname.lastname@example.org – our medical doctor will be ready to help you and get you tested.