HIV / AIDS

HEALTH INFORMATION

Health Information

Introduction

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) = a medical condition that when HIV has damaged the natural defense against disease.


Transmission router of HIV/AIDS

  1. Sexual contact (vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex)
  2. Blood contact (Sharing needles, Transfusion of contaminated blood products)
  3. Vertical transmission (From infected mother to child, delivery, breast feeding)

Social contact as shaking hands, kissing, mosquito bites or sharing toilet facilities will NOT transmit HIV.

Symptoms

An HIV carrier may not have any symptoms and cannot be identified by any external feature.

AIDS can take 10 to 15 years to develop after the infection with HIV.

At the very beginning the infected person may occur flu-like symptoms but it’s not an indicator of HIV infection.

Most people with HIV do not appear sick and could transmit the virus to others without knowing it. The only way to know if someone has HIV is by a HIV antibody test.

Mercury lll Health Education projects provide free, confidential and anonymous testing service. Please call 82069922 for further inquiry and reservation of testing appointment.

Impact

Over a long period of time, the immune system becomes severely damaged by HIV.

Eventually the immune system is unable to prevent the development of serious illnesses including rare forms of pneumonia and skin cancer.

Successive opportunistic illnesses eventually lead to death.

Prevention

  1. Always protect yourself and your partner by using a condom when having sex.
  1. Proper and consistent use of condom can help to reduce the risk of contracting HIV.
  2. If your partner refuses to use a condom, choose not to have sex.
  3. Do not share needles, syringes and other injecting equipment with others.
  4. Wear gloves when you expect to be in contact with bloods of others.
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Treatment

At this moment, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS.

However, a treatment named Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) is available to directly inhibit HIV, control the viral load, and prevented from developing into opportunistic infection, as a result to eliminate the chance of development to AIDS.


The chance of successful treatment will be even higher if medication are taken early enough, before the severe damage to the immune system is done.

Regular medical check-up is very important to the people living with HIV (PLHIV) to sustain their health and the quality of life.

Some Questions about HIV/AIDS

HIV is transmitted when a fresh wound or mucous membranes contact directly with the blood/semen/vaginal secretion of an infected person. Under normal circumstances, HIV could not be transmitted by kissing.

HIV transmission occurs not only through exchange of body fluid. Pulling out (or withdrawal) is not an effective method of preventing HIV. If the man is a HIV-carrier, the pre-ejaculate secretion does contain sufficient amount of HIV to make infection to his partner possible. On the other hand, if the woman is a HIV-carrier, the virus could pass to her partner through direct contact of vaginal fluid and the mucous membranes of the glans, no matter ejaculate inside vagina or not.

Condom is made of latex, so using two condoms at the same time (or “double-bagging”) can increase the friction between condoms during intercourse, making them more likely to rip or tear. In fact, using a single condom is already reliable in preventing HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), when used consistently and correctly.

HIV is transmitted through contact with infected blood or other body fluids (semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk). No scientific evidence shows HIV can transmit through casual contact (e.g., shaking hand, playing basketball, swimming in the same pool, using the same bathroom, via air or water).

The “H” in “HIV” stands for human – only people can pass HIV on to other people. Animals (including mosquito) cannot transmit HIV to human or vice versa.

Consistent and correct use of condoms helps protect against HIV/AIDS. In addition, if the HIV positive partner regularly takes her/his prescriptions and medical follow up, it helps keep the viral load in the body lower, thus reduce the HIV infection risk to the partner.

It depends on when your last blood donation was and how regularly you donate blood. The accuracy of result would be further affected if you have not passed the window period before donating blood. A proper HIV test is the only and most recommended way to be sure of your HIV status.

Drug Abuse and HIV

Injection drug abuse:

Since the beginning of the epidemic drug abuse and addiction have been linked with HIV/AIDS. People typically associate drug abuse and HIV/AIDS with injection drug use and needle sharing. When injection drug users share “equipment” – such as needles, syringes, and other drug injection paraphernalia including cotton, filter and so on-HIV can be transmitted between users. UNODC (2011) suggests that once the virus is introduced into an injecting drug user community, prevalence can rise up to 90 percent in less than two years. Other infections such as hepatitis C can also be spread this way. Hepatitis C can cause liver disease and permanent liver damage in the long run.


Non-injection drug abuse:

Although injection drug use is well known of the risk of infection, the role that non-injection drug abuse plays in the spread of HIV is less recognized. However, drug abuse by any route can put a person at a higher risk for getting HIV. Crystal Meth, Cocaine, Ketamine, Marijuana, Ecstasy, GHB, and Alcohol are just a few of the non-injected drugs which alter judgment and inhibition and lead people to engage in unsafe behaviors that they would not normally choose if it were not for the influence of drugs. Risks of non-injection drug abuse cannot be overlooked.


Poor judgment and risky behavior:

Drug abuse by any route (not just injection) can put a person at risk for getting HIV. Drug and alcohol intoxication impair judgment and can lead to unsafe sexual practices, which put people at risk for getting HIV or transmitting it to others.


Alcohol and HIV:

Just like the other drugs, alcohol can increase the chances of unsafe behavior by altering judgment and decision-making. It is important not to use alcohol and drugs before you have sex.


Harm Reduction:

Harm reduction refers to a range of public health policies or practices designed to reduce the harmful consequences associated with drug abuse and other high risk activities.