How Can I Take Care Of Myself While Living With Hiv
It’s very important to take your medications as prescribed and to make sure you dont miss appointments. This is called treatment adherence.
If you miss medications, even by accident, HIV can change how it infects your cells , potentially causing your medications to stop working. If your schedule prevents you from taking medications on time or making it to appointments, talk to your healthcare provider.
A Doctor’s Plea For A Safe Consumption Site For Kenora As It Deals With Spike In Hiv/aids
More cases of HIV/AIDS have been reported in Kenora, Ont., in the last 12 months than in the last eight years, and a doctor practising in the community says a safe consumption site is needed to help address the issue.
In 2022, the Northwestern Health Unit reported nine confirmed cases of HIV/AIDS in the northwestern Ontario city. In the previous eight years, there were only eight confirmed cases, according to NWHU data.
Dr. Jonny Grek says that number may be much higher he’s seen 15 new cases reported in the past nine months, and said the health unit’s data lags behind what he’s seeing at the ground level.
“Our numbers are from the street point-of-care testing, which are then followed up with a lab confirmed test and so far, there have been no false positives on the point-of-care testing,” Grek told CBC News in an interview.
The NWHU’s medical officer of health, Dr. Young Hoon, doesn’t dispute Grek’s numbers, but said the NWHU must follow provincial standards for reporting cases and cannot rely on preliminary testing or other clinical information to confirm them.
Grek practises family medicine at Kenora’s Paterson Medical Centre, and provides outreach and street medicine through the Sunset Country Family Health Team. He’s seen a lot of struggle on Kenora’s streets since he came to the area 4½ years ago.
The attitude and the feel on the streets here is one of, I would say, despair on top of despair. – Dr. Jonny Grek
Positive HIV tests in Ontario
Safe consumption sites
How Do Doctors Diagnose Hiv And Aids
A healthcare professional will diagnose HIV infection with tests that detect viral antigens or viral antibodies, or both, in a sample of blood or oral fluid. Most diagnostic and screening HIV tests are combined antigen/antibody tests. Home testing and rapid-result kits are typically antibody tests. A clinic needs to confirm rapid and home test results.
Another testthe nucleic acid test , or HIV viral load testdirectly measures the amount of HIV in a blood sample. It is useful when measuring the effect of treatment and when a person is highly likely to be infected with HIV and yet antigen/antibody tests are negative.
HIV may not be detectable in the first 1 to 3 months after infection, and a series of tests may be needed to diagnose or rule out HIV infection.
People who are HIV-positive receive an AIDS diagnosis if they develop an increasing number of so-called opportunistic infections. These illnesses are more common in people with suppressed immune systems, including HIV patients, because the immune system can no longer fight off disease.
A CD4 cell count of less than 200 cells/mm3 also indicates HIV has turned into AIDS. The CD4 cell count of a healthy person who does not have HIV is 500 to 1500 cells/mm3.
Your doctor or healthcare professional will discuss your individual diagnosis with you and together you can develop next steps to treat and manage the disease.
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If I Have Hiv How Can I Keep From Spreading It To Others
The best ways to keep from spreading HIV to others are many of the same ways you use to protect yourself:
- Let sexual partners and anyone you inject drugs with know that you have HIV.
- Follow your treatment plan and dont miss medications. If you have an undetectable viral load, you greatly reduce the risk of transmitting HIV through sex.
- Talk to your sexual partner about taking PrEP.
- Dont share needles or other equipment to inject drugs.
- Limit the number of sexual partners you have.
- If youre pregnant and have HIV, following your treatment plan, including ART medications, can reduce your risk of transmitting the virus to your child.
No Proof That Hiv Causes Aids
The denialists say that there is no proof that HIV causes AIDS and no single scientific paper that offers such proof. This myth has been repeated endlessly like a mantra since 1987. The denialists claim that one scientist, Robert Gallo at the National Cancer Institute, simply called a press conference one day and proclaimed that he had found the cause of AIDS, without having data or undergoing traditional scientific peer review. This is pure fiction.
In early 1983, French researchers isolated a previously unknown retrovirus from the lymph nodes of a person with early symptoms of AIDS, although they did not yet have enough data to prove the virus was the cause of AIDS. In the spring of 1984, Gallo and his team of U.S. researchers submitted a comprehensive series of four scientific papers to the journal Science, papers that were fully peer reviewed . The four papers described how the virus was routinely found in people with various symptoms associated with AIDS and was absent in those who lacked either symptoms or AIDS-associated risk factors. The papers concluded to the satisfaction of most scientists that HIV was the cause of AIDS and went on to describe new methods for growing the virus in large quantities and for creating a blood test to detect the presence of antibodies to the virus.
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Why Are People With Hiv And Aids At A Higher Risk For Mental Disorders
The stress associated with living with a serious illness or condition, such as HIV, can affect a persons mental health. People with HIV have a higher chance of developing mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders. For example, depression is one of the most common mental health conditions faced by people with HIV.
It is important to remember that mental disorders are treatable. People who have a mental disorder can recover.
HIV and related infections can also affect the brain and the rest of the nervous system. This may change how a person thinks and behaves. Also, some medications used to treat HIV may have side effects that affect a person’s mental health.
Situations that can contribute to mental health problems for anyone:
- Having trouble getting mental health services
- Experiencing a loss of social support, resulting in isolation
- Experiencing a loss of employment or worries about being able to perform at work
- Dealing with loss, including the loss of relationships or the death of loved ones
In addition, people with HIV include may also experience situations that negatively impact their mental health, such as:
- Having to tell others about an HIV diagnosis
- Managing HIV medicines and medical treatment
- Facing stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS
Understanding how living with HIV can affect mental health and knowing what resources are available can make it easier for people to manage their overall health and well-being.
What Are The Treatments For Hiv/aids
There is no cure for HIV infection, but it can be treated with medicines. This is called antiretroviral therapy . ART can make HIV infection a manageable chronic condition. It also reduces the risk of spreading the virus to others.
Most people with HIV live long and healthy lives if they get and stay on ART. It’s also important to take care of yourself. Making sure that you have the support you need, living a healthy lifestyle, and getting regular medical care can help you enjoy a better quality of life.
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Still Healthy Without Medications
The denialists say that there are HIV-positive people who do not take AIDS drugs and stay healthy for several years, and that this somehow proves that HIV is harmless. What’s missing in this reasoning is any understanding of the natural, untreated history of HIV disease. The denialists confuse the question of whether HIV is the cause of AIDS with the question of whether HIV has yet caused AIDS in themselves.
On average, HIV-infected people who have access to health care and a reasonable diet, will take about 10 years to progress to AIDS. This means that 10 years after infection, about half will have progressed to AIDS and another half will have not. A small percentage progress rapidly to AIDS within two to three years, while some reach 15 years or longer without progressing, even without treatment. At 20 years after infection, the percentage who are still well without treatment becomes vanishingly small . There is nothing unusual about this. Many other diseases-such as cancer, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis-affect people differently over different periods of time.
What You Can Do
Before your appointment, consider answering these questions and take them to your appointment:
- How do you think you were exposed to HIV?
- What are your symptoms?
- Do you have risk factors, such as participating in unprotected sex or using illicit injection drugs?
- What medications or supplements do you take?
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What Are The Treatments For Hiv And Aids
Treatment of HIV starts with seeking regular medical care. This allows your healthcare professional to best evaluate your symptoms and risks and provide regular testing for HIV infection as appropriate. Regular medical care can increase your chances of catching and treating HIV in its earliest stages before serious complications occur.
Medication is the only way to treat HIV infection and delay or prevent AIDS. Since HIV is a retrovirus,medications that inhibit HIV are known as antiretroviral drugs.
Side Effects And Costs
Side effects of antiretroviral therapy vary and may include nausea, headache, and dizziness. These symptoms are often temporary and disappear with time.
Serious side effects can include swelling of the mouth and tongue and liver or kidney damage. If side effects are severe, the medications can be adjusted.
Costs for antiretroviral therapy vary according to geographic location and type of insurance coverage. Some pharmaceutical companies have assistance programs to help lower the cost.
To develop AIDS, a person has to have contracted HIV. But having HIV doesnt necessarily mean that someone will develop AIDS.
Cases of HIV progress through three stages:
- stage 1:acute stage, the first few weeks after transmission
- stage 2: clinical latency, or chronic stage
As HIV lowers the CD4 cell count, the immune system weakens. A typical adults CD4 count is 500 to 1,500 per cubic millimeter. A person with a count below 200 is considered to have AIDS.
How quickly a case of HIV progresses through the chronic stage varies significantly from person to person. Without treatment, it can last up to a decade before advancing to AIDS. With treatment, it can last indefinitely.
Theres currently no cure for HIV, but it can be managed. People with HIV often have a near-normal lifespan with early treatment with antiretroviral therapy.
Also, treatment can typically help manage opportunistic infections.
HIV and AIDS are related, but theyre not the same thing.
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What Are The Stages Of Hiv And Aids
Without treatment, HIV infection progresses in stages:
- Stage 1, acute HIV infection: People are very contagious at this stage, when there are large amounts of virus in the bloodstream. Some people develop flu-like symptoms within 2 to 4 weeks after infection.
- Stage 2, clinical latency or HIV dormancy: The virus is still replicating, but at very low levels compared to stage 1. Without treatment, stage 2 can last a decade or longer. With treatment, stage 2 can last for several decades or be lifelong.
- Stage 3, AIDS : HIV has damaged the immune system to such a degree it can no longer protect the body from infection and disease. Stage 3 survival is about three years. People with AIDS may have a high viral load and are very infectious.
Medical Community Agrees Hiv Causes Aids
Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a virus that attacks the bodys immune system immune system cells called CD4 lymphocyte cells. This causes the immune system to eventually stop working.
HIV … is a virus that attacks the bodys immune system. If HIV is not treated, it can lead to AIDS, the CDCs website states.
The National Institute of Healths website reads, The loss of CD4 cells makes it difficult for the body to fight off infections and certain cancers. Without treatment, HIV can gradually destroy the immune system and HIV infection advances to AIDS.
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What Other Complications Can Be Caused By Hiv
HIV causes significant inflammation in the body. This inflammation can cause neurological complications by damaging the spinal cord and brain, which form the central nervous system.
Despite effective ART, people with HIV are still at risk for central nervous system diseases associated with HIV. These diseases can be neurological or neurocognitive .
Severe neurological impairments such as dementia, brain atrophy, and encephalitis are less common in people who use ART, compared to people with HIV who are not on ART. However, there are still less severe forms of central nervous system diseases associated with HIV.
Researchers are working to better understand how HIV affects the central nervous system. This information will be helpful to develop new treatments to improve the lives of people with HIV. Understanding which types of cells in the central nervous system are targeted by the HIV infection and how those cells are damaged may help shape efforts to prevent, treat, and cure HIV.
Research efforts also focus on understanding why HIV is harder to eliminate in some tissues in the body and what strategies might be more effective on those cells.
Starting And Maintaining Treatment
Everyone with HIV infection, regardless of the CD4 T cell count or symptoms, should be offered antiviral medication.
Remaining on effective ART with an undetectable HIV viral load in the blood is the best way for you to stay healthy.
For ART to be effective, it’s important that you take the medications as prescribed, without missing or skipping any doses. Staying on ART with an undetectable viral load helps:
- Keep your immune system strong
- Reduce your chances of getting an infection
- Reduce your chances of developing treatment-resistant HIV
- Reduce your chances of transmitting HIV to other people
Staying on HIV therapy can be challenging. It’s important to talk to your health care provider about possible side effects, difficulty taking medications, and any mental health or substance use issues that may make it difficult for you to maintain ART.
Having regular follow-up appointments with your health care provider to monitor your health and response to treatment is also important. Let your provider know right away if you’re having problems with HIV therapy so that you can work together to find ways to address those challenges.
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How Do Hiv And Aids Affect Quality Of Life
An HIV diagnosis is life-changing, but today HIV is often a manageable condition, and people who are HIV-positive can live long, healthy lives.
However, living with HIV still presents challenges, either from symptoms of HIV itself or side effects from HIV treatments. Experts measure these factors as health-related quality of life .
Overall, issues that lower a patients HRQoL include:
Stable relationships and good social support
- Good communication with healthcare providers
Living well with HIV is truly a team effort. Your care team can answer questions and help you navigate your treatment plan to manage symptoms and side effects.
Spending time with supportive friends and family members can provide emotional strength, as well as caregiving assistance when needed.
Finally, HIV/AIDS support groups, both online and in-person, can connect you with a community of other people living with HIV or AIDS to share your experiences and face each days challenges together.
Tests To Stage Disease And Treatment
If you’ve been diagnosed with HIV, it’s important to find a specialist trained in diagnosing and treating HIV to help you:
- Determine whether you need additional testing
- Determine which HIV antiretroviral therapy will be best for you
- Monitor your progress and work with you to manage your health
If you receive a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, several tests can help your health care provider determine the stage of your disease and the best treatment, including:
- CD4 T cell count. CD4 T cells are white blood cells that are specifically targeted and destroyed by HIV. Even if you have no symptoms, HIV infection progresses to AIDS when your CD4 T cell count dips below 200.
- Viral load . This test measures the amount of virus in your blood. After starting HIV treatment, the goal is to have an undetectable viral load. This significantly reduces your chances of opportunistic infection and other HIV-related complications.
- Drug resistance. Some strains of HIV are resistant to medications. This test helps your health care provider determine if your specific form of the virus has resistance and guides treatment decisions.
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When To Get A Test
Right after you’re diagnosed, you should get a viral load test for a “baseline measurement.” That gives your doctor something to compare future test results to.
When you start or change medicine, a test about 4 weeks afterwards helps your doctor decide how well it’s working. An effective drug combination, taken as prescribed, can often drop the HIV viral load to one-tenth of what it was within a month. The viral load is generally undetectable by 3 months, nearly always by 6 months.
After that, you should get a test as often as your doctor recommends to see how your medications are controlling the virus. If your HIV seems to be under control, you can probably be tested less frequently.