ABC’s of Staying Safe from HIV
*A is for abstinence. Abstain from sex unless you have a monogamous partner. Fidelity might be for some people a religious, moral or loyalty issue but for Public Health and for you, it is a life and death issue.
*B, hence, is for Be faithful to your monogamous partner.
*C is for Condom. It is an effective shield against the HIV virus. Unless you know from valid HIV/AIDs testing your sex partner is negative, use a condom. It’s that simple.
*D is for Don’t re-use needles.
*E is for Educate yourself and continue to learn about prevention and treatment breakthroughs.
What are your symptoms?
Most people may develop symptoms similar to flu, 2–6 weeks after catching the virus. This is called acute retroviral syndrome. The symptoms of early HIV infection may include:
- joint pain
- muscle aches
- sore throat
- sweats (particularly at night)
- enlarged glands
- a red rash
- unintentional weight loss
It is important to remember that these symptoms appear when the body is fighting off many other types of viruses, not just HIV. However, if you have several of these symptoms and believe you could have been at risk of contracting HIV in the last few weeks, you should take a test.
At Most Risk: Children, Teens, LGBTQ2, in that order.
Among the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit communities (LGBTQ2), more learning is needed. Based on simple statistics, children, teens and the LGBTQ2 communities need more learning and prevention help because they are the statistical breeding ground for new infections.
Medical outreach and education on risk patterns and prevention of the transmission of communicable diseases is important but the most important mantra for HIV is: “Get Tested”.
Afraid of privacy issues? Do it yourself. Self testing is a legitimate, responsible and reliable way to test for HIV.
“OMG I tested Positive”
HIV, Aids and Hepatitis probably top the list of preventable sexualy transmitted diseases. Start preventing. If it’s too late for you to “prevent” because you have tested positive for HIV in a home test, do a confirming test with your doctor or any hospital/clinic offering this common service. This is a more complex test that ascertains if your home test has been done in error and also examines the HIV strain present in your blood if at all. Meanwhile, learn to take care of yourself while you wait for results and be certain that you learn how to practice safe sex and do not transmit the disease.
This learning will mitigate your anxiety.
Chill out. You are not going to die from early-detected HIV. Follow sound medical advice; take care of yourself; do not transmit the virus; seek the pharmacological solution you need and change your lifestyle to a healthy one–protect your health and your white blood cells. With pharmacological prophylaxis halt the progress of the virus. Don’t let your condition evolve to AIDs. Prevention is still very important. Do not contract another variant of HIV.
You can beat HIV. Before long, new solutions will be discovered and you can avail those as they are tested and evolving. Meanwhile you can halt the virus in your body. Stop it in its tracks.
The Enemy is a Virus
Each “germ” is so small they can only be seen under a strong microscope. Most viruses hijack red blood cells to clone themselves. HIV is different and more sinister.
Think of this: about 200 different viruses can cause what we refer to as a “cold.” Many others cause the flu, chicken pox, polio, measles, mumps, and a variety of other diseases. There are no cures for viruses and most are fought by your body’s immune system. For many serious diseases, medical scientists have developed vaccines to prevent your body from getting the disease in the first place. HIV is awaiting such a vaccine. More dialogue; more testing; and more prevention will help the process. Let’s openly talk about HIV. Let’s encourage the development of a vaccine.
Here is HIV. Not pretty, is it. It directly attacks your immune system. Rather than attacking your red blood cells it goes after your white blood cells, your body’s disease fighting soldiers. This slowly reduces your defences against all disease and infections. There are no cures for HIV nor is there a vaccine that prevents you from being infected by HIV. Once enough of your white blood cells have been destroyed, you are reclassified as having AIDS.
A healthy young person is exposed to the virus. HIV enters their blood stream. It is somewhat possible a person can be infected for 10 years or more without showing symptoms. That’s why testing is so important. The person’s immune system begins to fight back. White blood cells attack the virus, but cannot kill HIV. HIV begins to destroy white blood cells. The patient’s immune system becomes severely damaged. The victim’s body can no longer fight microbiological invaders. Eventually another virus, such as pneumonia or the influenza, enters the body. The patient’s mortality risk becomes elevated.
Go today and get tested or test yourself.