Overview Of Infectious Diseases: HIV/AIDS

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At a glance:

  • Around 1.4 million people were infected with HIV in Tanzania by 2017. Source: NACP, Tanzania.
  • Adult HIV prevalence in Tanzania is estimated at 5 percent, with regional HIV prevalence ranging from 0.5 percent (Zanzibar) to 11.4 percent (Njombe). Source: USAID, Tanzania.
  • The earliest known cases of human HIV infection were in western equatorial Africa, probably in southeast Cameroon where groups of the central common chimpanzee live. Source: The Aids Institute.

Introduction:

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.

Transition from HIV to AIDS

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.

What are the Risks and how is HIV Spread:

It is important to understand what are the risk behaviors and how HIV spreads from one person to another.

  • Other STIs. Many STIs, for example gonorrhoea and syphilis, produce open sores on your genitals. These sores act as doorways for HIV to enter your body.
  • Unprotected sex. You may become infected if you have vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected partner whose blood, semen or vaginal secretions enter your body. The virus can enter your body through mouth sores or small tears that sometimes develop in the rectum or vagina during sexual activity. Use a new latex or polyurethane condom every time you have sex. Anal sex is more risky than vaginal sex. Your risk of HIV increases if you have multiple sexual partners.

  • Sharing and reusing needles. Sharing and reusing contaminated IV drug paraphernalia (needles and syringes) puts you at high risk of HIV and other infectious diseases, such as hepatitis.

  • Blood transfusions. In some cases, the virus may be transmitted through blood transfusions. Nowadays, blood donations are thoroughly tested and screened, therefore this risk is low.

  • During pregnancy, delivery or throughout breastfeeding. Infected mothers can pass the virus on to their babies. Mothers who are HIV-positive and get treatment for the infection during pregnancy can significantly lower the risk of contracting to their babies.

Prevention:

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.

Book Appointment:

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 contact@urbancare.clinic – our medical doctor will be ready to help you and get you tested.

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