We Stand With Red: HIV/AIDS Awareness

A virus that diproportonatly affect the continent with over twenty million reported cases, Africans are no stranger to HIV/AIDS. Over the last two decades steps have been taken by the healtcafe sectors to raise awareness about the various and it treatment. One of the biggest steps as a continent toward raising awareness is gradual changing of our mindset from one of condemnation and ostracization to understand and inclusion.

On this World Aids Day we delve deeper and break don the important aspect of this virus.

What Is HIV?

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells of the immune system, affecting the body’s ability to fight infections and making a person more vulnerable to those infections. HIV is spread by contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV, most commonly during unprotected sex or through sharing needles. If HIV is not treated, it can therefore lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) which is the late stage of HIV infection, and it happens when the immune system becomes badly damaged due to HIV. 

When does the patient develop AIDS? 

  • When the number of their CD4 cells falls below 200 cells/mm3. 
  • OR when the patient develops one or more opportunistic infections regardless of their CD4 count.

CD4 cells are the type of white blood cells that fight infection. HIV destroys CD4 cells and as the immune system loses CD4 cells, it becomes weaker. When the loss of these cells become to large, the patient risks getting AIDS-related opportunistic infections. A CD4 cell count is an indicator of the immune function in HIV  patients.

Treatments 

There is still no effective cure for HIV, but there are multiple medications that can control the disease and this helps the patient to live a long and healthy life. some also work to prevent HIV transmission to the sexual partner and children born to mother infected with the virus. The most effective treatment for HIV is antiretroviral therapy (ART). This is a combination of several medications that can control the amount of the virus in the body. ART slows the rate at which the virus grows.

Other treatment for HIV/AIDS include

PrEP(pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a prevention method for people how are HIV-negative and have high risk to be exposed to the virus, they can get antiretroviral medication to prevent acquisition of HIV infection. 

PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is the use of antiretroviral medications for people who are HIV-negative after a high-risk exposure to HIV infection (exposure can be through sex or sharing needles with infected person). It should be started as soon as possible to be effective.

Research by: Mariam Alsulimani

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