What do you need to know about HIV?
HIV infection is a slowly progressive viral disease of the immune system, leading to weakening of the immune defense from tumor and infections. The stage of HIV infection in which due to declining of immunity a man starts having secondary infection or tumor diseases is called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Where do HIV and AIDS come from?
The first reports of HIV and AIDS emerged in the early 80-ies of XX century. Nowadays these names are known even to a child. Today global awareness is the main task. The disease spreads in geometric progression, and the cure has not yet been found. The only salvation for the mankind is the prevention of these diseases.
Up to now it is well-known that this virus comes from West Africa, its nature and structure has been determined, ways of transmission and viability of the virus have been explored, but so far all this has not led to the creation of a truly effective medicine. Statistics of HIV infection spread is appalling - currently there are already more than 50 million people in the world who live with HIV or AIDS.
The symptoms of that disease were first recorded in 1978 with a few patients in the United States and Sweden, as well as in Tanzania and at the Haiti. And in 1983, Luc Montagnier from the Pasteur Institute (France) discovered the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which is the cause of the HIV infection.
How can HIV / AIDS be contacted?
• During sexual intercourse
• When using one and the same syringes and means for injections
• During blood transfusion
• Virus transmission from an HIV-positive mother to a child - during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding (5-10 percent)
• From the medical staff to patients, and vice versa
• Parenteral way (through blood):
- During procedures affecting the integrity of skin and mucous membranes;
- When using non-sterile medical and non-medical instruments contaminated with infected blood remains;
• Sexual way - through unprotected sexual contacts
• Vertical way – HIV transmission an HIV-infected mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
How can HIV / AIDS not be contacted?
With the emergence of those life-threatening diseases there have been a lot of rumors and myths related to them. In order not to spread panic among the population it is necessary know how one cannot catch these diseases in everyday life:
• Airborne way (when coughing and sneezing)
• When shaking hands
• When having food and drinks
• In swimming pools and saunas
• Through injections, in public transport and other public places. The information about possible contacting through infected needles put on the seats by HIV-infected people, or about the latter trying to stab infected needles in the crowd, is nothing more than just myths. The virus persists in the environment for an extremely short period; besides, the content of the virus at the tip of the needle is too small.
What happens during infection?
Viruses cannot reproduce themselves on their own. For its multiplication HIV uses the cells of our immune system. HIV affects our body's defense system, making it work for the virus’s vital functions. A man’s immunity becomes weaker and weaker. A person living with HIV may feel good for many years; however, this asymptomatic period often leads to transition to the stage of AIDS.
Early signs and symptoms:
• Thrush of all types of mucous
• Continued rise in temperature
• Sudden weight loss
• Frequent respiratory infections (colds and flu)
One should contact a doctor upon noticing the above symptoms for 10 days, and with a significant increase in the lymph nodes.
Those at risk:
• Drug users
• People who frequently change sexual partners
• Those in need of frequent blood transfusion and hemodialysis (artificial kidney)
• Children whose mothers are infected
• Medical workers
We have already mentioned above that it is easier to prevent a disease than try to cure it hard for a long time. Necessary preventive measures include:
• Safe sex - using special protection means during sexual intercourses
• Refraining from using drugs
• Use of disposable syringes and sterilization of medical equipment
• HIV-infected mothers are prohibited to breastfeed
Living with HIV / AIDS
Positive HIV test ... What to do? How to respond? How to live on?
First and foremost, you must inform all your close people that you are a carrier of the disease. Moreover, you should not panic, you should learn how to live with HIV / AIDS, and then the struggle with the disease will not appear to be a severe punishment. And, of course, you need to stick to special rules:
• Proper nutrition: it is not necessary to keep any diets, any malnutrition can be harmful. Meals should be nutritious and balanced.
• Quit bad habits: alcohol and smoking
• Moderate exercising can positively influence the immune status of the HIV-infected
• You should discuss with your treating doctor the possibility of vaccinations against some infections. Not all vaccines can be used for the HIV-infected. In particular, live vaccines cannot be used. However, killed vaccines as well as vaccines, which are particles of microorganisms, are suitable to many HIV-infected individuals depending on their immune status.
• It is always necessary to pay attention to the quality of food and water used. Fruits and vegetables should always be washed thoroughly with boiled water, food must be heat-treated. It is necessary to decontaminate unverified water, in some countries with a hot climate even tap water can be contaminated.
• Communicating with animals: it is better to avoid any contacts with unknown (especially homeless) animals. At least, you should be sure to wash your hands after contacts with animals, even with your pet. Your pet should be taken care of very thoroughly: try to prevent it from communicating with other animals and not allow touching garbage in the street. After a walk be sure to wash it, and it is better to put on gloves. It is also better to clean up after pets using gloves.
• Try to limit your contacts with sick, cold people. If you want to communicate you it is worth using a face mask, and wash your hands after contacts with sick people.