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Question
Posted by: Inc | 2004/11/04

Reading material: HIV/AIDS

What is the difference between HIV and Aids?

Infection with the HIV virus leads to the development of Aids. Aids occurs during the last stages of HIV infection. Aids is not a single disease but rather a disorder characterised by a severely impaired immune system.

A person with an impaired immune system is susceptible to a variety of otherwise manageable infections, cancers and other diseases. These are called opportunistic infections because they take advantage of the body's weakened immune system.
It may take years for a person's immune system to deteriorate to such an extent that the person becomes ill and a diagnosis of Aids is made. During this time (which can last as long as 10-15 years), a person may look and feel perfectly well. This explains why so many people are unaware that they are infected. However, even though they feel healthy, they can still transmit the virus to others.

Cause
HIV hides in semen, blood or vaginal fluid.
It can be transmitted through:
• Unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse with an infected person.
• Exchange from mother to child during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding (called vertical transmission). The chances of passing HIV from mother to child are between 15 to 40%.
• Injection with non-sterile needles, e.g. among intravenous drug users.
• Use of infected surgical instruments, e.g. during traditional circumcision.
• Blood transfusions with unscreened blood.

HIV is not transmitted by "high risk groups" such as homosexuals, prostitutes or black women but by any person who practices high risk behaviour such as unprotected sex.

How HIV is not transmitted
HIV is not transmitted through:
• Toilet seats
• Sharing a bath
• Sharing a toothbrush
• Eating utensils
• Hugging and kissing
• Mosquitoes
• Swimming pools
• Coughs and sneezes

Protection against HIV infection
You can protect yourself against infection by adhering to the ABC of safer sex:
A = Abstinence (e.g. no sex until you are married)
B = Be faithful (both partners have to be faithful)
C = Condoms (using male or female condoms every time you have sex)

How do I know if I'm infected?
An HIV test can be done to detect antibodies. Pre-employment testing is no longer allowed in South Africa. Insurance testing may be done with the consent of the client. If the client does not want to be tested, the broker may refuse the life cover. Voluntary testing is done with the written consent of the client. Diagnostic testing may also only be done with the informed consent of the client.

What are the 4 C's of the HIV test?
C = Consent must be given in writing when testing is done.
C = Confidentiality must be assured at all times.
C = Counselling must be given in the form of pre- and post-test counselling.
C = Consequences must be looked into before the test is done.

HIV tests
The following tests are commonly used:
Screening tests
• ELISA
• ABBOTT
• ACCESS
• RAPID
• WESTERN BLOT

These tests look for the antibodies which fight the virus.
Confirmatory tests
• PCR
• P24

These tests look for the virus.
What does the test result mean?
An HIV+ result does not necessarily mean that the person has full blown Aids.
• The test cannot say from whom or when the virus was transmitted.
• The most important factor with a positive result is the availability of support.
• A negative result does not mean that the person is immune to HIV.
• A negative result is not a licence to practice unsafe sex.

Who can and must you tell if you are HIV+ or have Aids?
The issue of what is ethical and legal comes into this question. By law you do not have to tell anyone. However, there are legal consequences if you do not tell the following people:
Your sexual partner if you are having unprotected sex.
Your life insurance company.
Your medical aid.
You are entitled to tell anyone you like, but that is your choice.

Why should I tell?
In some cases it might be necessary to disclose your status. You might want to tell your doctor if you are not responding to particular treatment. You might want to disclose if you feel that you could receive better support. If you willfully infect your partner, you can face criminal charges.

How to build the immune system
The most important issue is to build the immune system because medication might not be available. All home based care must be simple as well as economical and should include the following:
• Rest and sleep
• Lower stress levels
• Smoke and drink less
• Eat healthy food
• Exercise
• Keep busy or create a hobby
• Strengthen spiritual ties
• Communication with those around you to reduce tension and stress.

Points to ponder
• Aids cannot be cured but it can be prevented.
• Silence equals death. Share the information you have with those around you.
• HIV/Aids knows no barriers of age, race or gender.
• Testing must always be done with consent.
• Testing must be done with pre- and post-test counselling.
• Always practice safer sex.
• Respect all blood and blood products, rather be safe.
• Fight Aids, not someone with Aids.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Excellent summary, Inc --- thanks !

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Shaun | 2004/11/04

Awesome enlightenment!!! Thanx Inc.

Reply to Shaun

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