Saturday, June 15, 2024

What Can You Do If You Have Hiv

Eric Hofheinz 48 Student Nurse

How To Know If You Have AIDS – Recognize HIV Symptoms

It all started 19 years ago, when my mother passed away. She was ill for about a year and a half, in and out of the Royal Marsden. The care was excellent, and I sat there and I thought: “I could do this.” I’d never thought about a medical career before. I was working in business travel, making reservations for corporate clients, but that experience planted the seed for nursing.

I was diagnosed with HIV in 2001. It was a very dark period of my life. I’d just come out of a four-year relationship, but it only takes having unsafe sex once to contract HIV and for me that was the case. Receiving my diagnosis was very, very scary. I still had that image of the 1980s in my head, and that’s still the stigma today.

But I’ve been lucky. The HIV is still there, but it’s not a big part of my life. One pill in the morning, two in the evening: remembering to take the pills is the most annoying part, to be honest. There’s no effect on the body for me.

Four years ago I was made redundant from my travel-industry job, and I thought: “Goodness, what am I going to do?” My partner at the time said, “Why don’t you try nursing?” After all, I’d been going on about it for years. Being HIV-positive, though, I thought I wouldn’t be allowed to. Looking into it, I found that I could do certain aspects, but not theatre, which was the side of medicine I really liked.

What Else Should I Know

The two most important things you can do for your friend are to be there for support in whatever way feels natural and to keep your friend’s HIV diagnosis private. Just being there to hang out or eat lunch together can help keep things in perspective for everyone.

Life is for living. If friends know that you care about them for them â for the creative, smart, funny people they are â that can be the best thing you can do for a person living with any type of medical condition.

Are Some People Living With Hiv More At

People living with HIV who have a compromised immune system should be extra cautious to prevent coronavirus infection, as they may be at an even higher risk of getting seriously ill. This includes people with:

  • a low CD4 count ,
  • a high viral load,
  • or a recent opportunistic infection, for example, tuberculosis
  • a current AIDS-defining illness.

People living with HIV are also more likely to get respiratory infections when their HIV is not well managed.

For this reason its very important to take your antiretroviral treatment as prescribed always, but especially during this time. Talk to your health care provider if you are currently not taking treatment or if you are struggling with adherence.

Like in people not living with HIV, older people living with HIV and those living with underlying health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and obesity, should also be vigilant.

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How Antiretroviral Drugs Affect The Body

While there is no cure for HIV, antiretroviral therapy can reduce the amount of the virus in the blood to very low levels. By doing this, it keeps the person healthy and prevents the transmission of the virus to other people.

A very low, or undetectable, viral load means that the risk of transmission to others is virtually zero, which has led to the phrase: undetectable = untransmittable .

Experts encourage all people with HIV, regardless of their CD4 T-cell count, to start taking antiretroviral drugs as soon as possible after their diagnosis. Early treatment is key to a good outcome.

As with other medications, antiretroviral drugs can cause side effects in some people. However, modern drugs tend to produce fewer and less severe side effects than older drugs.

Possible side effects of antiretroviral drugs include:

  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • pain

Some side effects may last for a few days or weeks after the person starts treatment. Others may start later or last longer.

If a person experiences severe side effects that make them consider stopping treatment, they can talk to their healthcare provider. Stopping treatment or skipping doses can lead to drug resistance and limit a persons treatment options.

Some people can reduce some side effects by taking the medication 2 hours before going to bed. Other people may prefer to take it in the morning to prevent sleep disturbances.

Certain HIV drugs may also lead to less obvious changes, such as:

Where Can You Get Tested For Hiv


You can get an HIV test at many places:

  • Your health care providers office
  • Health clinics or community health centers
  • STD or sexual health clinics
  • Your local health department
  • Substance abuse prevention or treatment programs

Many pharmacies and some community-based organizations also offer HIV testing.

HIV testing is covered by health insurance without a co-pay, as required by the Affordable Care Act. If you do not have health insurance, some testing sites may offer free tests.

These places can connect you to HIV care and treatment if you test positive or can discuss the best HIV prevention options for you if you test negative.

You can also buy a home testing kit at a pharmacy or online.

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Stage : Acute Primary Infection

The early symptoms of HIV can feel like having the flu. Around one to four weeks after getting HIV, you may start to experience these flu-like symptoms. These normally dont last long . You may only get some of the symptoms and some people dont have any symptoms at all.

Symptoms can include:

  • joint aches and pains
  • muscle pain.

These symptoms happen because your body is reacting to the HIV virus. Cells that are infected with HIV are circulating throughout your blood system. In response, your immune system tries to attack the virus by producing HIV antibodies this process is called seroconversion. Timing varies but once you have HIV it can take your body up to a few months to go through the seroconversion process.

Having these symptoms alone does not mean you definitely have HIV. The only way to know if you have HIV is by taking a test. You should always visit your healthcare professional if youre worried about or think youve been at risk of getting HIV, even if you feel well and dont have any symptoms. They can then arrange for you to get tested.

HIV will not always show up in a test at this early stage, and you may need to test again later to confirm your result . Your healthcare professional will talk to you about the timing of your test and answer any concerns. Its important not delay speaking to a healthcare worker if you are worried about HIV.

Hiv Treatment As Prevention

  • Post-Exposure Prophylaxis
  • Treatment as prevention refers to taking HIV medication to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV. It is one of the highly effective options for preventing HIV transmission. People living with HIV who take HIV medication daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.

    TasP works when a person living with HIV takes HIV medication exactly as prescribed and has regular follow-up care, including regular viral load tests to ensure their viral load stays undetectable.

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    Shamin Onyango Odera 35 Nurse

    I always wanted to become a doctor. But in Kenya some bureaucrat somewhere told me that being a doctor was a man’s job, so I was allocated a place to be a nurse. I accepted it and thought I’d do nursing, then convert later to be a doctor.

    When I was 23, I gave birth to a baby boy back in the UK, where I had been born. The pregnancy was fine, but when he was six months old he started getting sick. At nine months, he had to be admitted, and then tested positive for HIV 1 and 2, which meant that I had it too. He died a couple of weeks after that. We had been infected without knowing it by my first husband. This also meant that I wasn’t allowed to train to be a doctor, and I was told I couldn’t do midwifery either. It was a blow, but I was getting used to dealing with bad news.

    Instead, I worked as an acute medical nurse, and finally got into A& E. When patients come in, of course, we don’t know what they have. They keep bleeding and vomiting all over you, but we all take care. Some of my colleagues don’t know about my HIV status, but some do and are fine with it.

    It’s too late for me to become a doctor now. I had two children after I got married again, and if I went back into training I’d have to survive on a bursary, which is hard with a family. I might try for midwifery, though.

    How Is Hiv Diagnosed

    How To Know You Have HIV.

    A doctor may suspect HIV if symptoms last and no other cause can be found.

    If you have been exposed to HIV, your immune system will make antibodies to try to destroy the virus. Doctors use tests to find these HIV antibodies or antigens in urine, saliva, or blood.

    If a test on urine or saliva shows that you are infected with HIV, you will probably have a blood test to confirm the results.

    Most doctors use a blood test to diagnose HIV infection. If the test is positive , a test to detect HIV DNA or RNA will be done to be sure.

    HIV antibodies may show up in the blood as early as 2 to 4 weeks after contact but can also take as long as 3 to 6 months to show up in the blood. If you think you have been exposed to HIV but you test negative for it:

    • Get tested again. A repeat test can be done after a few weeks to be sure you are not infected.
    • Meanwhile, take steps to prevent the spread of the virus, in case you do have it.

    You can get HIV testing in most doctors’ offices, public health units, hospitals, and HIV care clinics.

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    What Happens If I Delay Starting Hiv Treatment

    In the past people could delay treatment if they werent ready to start. However, this isnt recommended now. If you have HIV, the sooner you start treatment, the better it is for your health.

    The START trial found that there was a 53% reduction in the risk of death or serious illness if treatment was started when the CD4 count was still above 500.

    Its common for people to feel apprehensive about taking treatment but all you need to remember is that:

    • It will enable you to live a normal lifespan.
    • When you’re on effective treatment you won’t be able to pass on HIV.

    When Someone You Know Has Hiv

    When someone in your family tests positive for HIV, you may feel a range of emotions. Among fear, confusion, regret and love for the person afflicted, you may also feel afraid for your own personal well-being and may have questions about just how contagious HIV may be. Rest assured that people with HIV can live at home and maintain a normal social life. Since the virus is not spread by casual household contact, family members, roommates, and visitors are not at risk of becoming infected.

    The following information is provided to clarify what should and should not be done in living with someone with HIV. You will see that most of it is just good hygiene practices.

    Hand washing is an effective way to prevent the spread of any germs. Wash hands with soap and water before preparing food, before eating, and after using the toilet. This is to protect both the infected and uninfected family members remember that a person living with HIV may have a weak immune system and therefore may be more likely to catch any type of infection from another person. They, too, are vulnerable.

    Personal Articles such as toothbrushes, razors and razor blades should not be shared among household members. These may become soiled with blood and could spread germs that may cause many illnesses.

    Wash dishes in hot soapy water. No special precautions are necessary. There is no need to wash separately the dishes used by the infected person.

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    Treatment Options For Hiv

    Treatment should begin as soon as possible after a diagnosis of HIV, regardless of viral load.

    The main treatment for HIV is antiretroviral therapy, a combination of daily medications that stop the virus from reproducing. This helps protect CD4 cells, keeping the immune system strong enough to take measures against disease.

    Antiretroviral therapy helps keep HIV from progressing to AIDS. It also helps reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others.

    When treatment is effective, the viral load will be undetectable. The person still has HIV, but the virus is not visible in test results.

    However, the virus is still in the body. And if that person stops taking antiretroviral therapy, the viral load will increase again, and the HIV can again start attacking CD4 cells.

    If You Already Have Hiv

    Brace Yourself For The Universal " Symptoms"  Of People ...

    If you are infected with HIV, you can greatly lower the risk of spreading the infection to your sex partner by starting treatment when your immune system is still healthy.

    Experts recommend starting treatment as soon as you know you are infected.footnote 21

    Studies have shown that early treatment greatly lowers the risk of spreading HIV to an uninfected partner.footnote 22, footnote 23

    Your partner may also be able to take medicine to prevent getting infected.footnote 17 This is called pre-exposure prophylaxis .

    Steps to avoid spreading HIV

    If you are infected with HIV, you can greatly lower the risk of spreading the infection to your sex partner by starting treatment when your immune system is still healthy.

    • Take antiretroviral medicines. Getting treated for HIV can help prevent the spread of HIV to people who are not infected.
    • Tell your sex partner or partners about your behaviour and whether you are HIV-positive.
    • Follow safer sex practices, such as using condoms.
    • Do not donate blood, plasma, semen, body organs, or body tissues.
    • Do not share personal items, such as toothbrushes, razors, or sex toys, that may be contaminated with blood, semen, or vaginal fluids.

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    See An Hiv And Aids Doctor Right Away

    After finding out you have HIV, fear about the future may make it hard for you to take action. But once you know you’re HIV-positive, see a doctor with experience in HIV and AIDS as soon as you can. Don’t put it off. Your doctor will run tests to see how well your immune system is working, how fast the HIV is progressing, and how healthy your body is overall. With this and other information, your doctor can work with you to come up with the best treatment plan, including when and how to begin treatment. HIV drugs can often slow or prevent the progression of HIV to AIDS. Left untreated, though, HIV can lead to serious illness and death.

    How Hiv Is Not Spread

    The virus doesn’t survive well outside the body. So HIV cannot be spread through casual contact with an infected person, such as by sharing drinking glasses, by casual kissing, or by coming into contact with the person’s sweat or urine.

    It is now extremely rare in Canada or the United States for HIV to be transmitted by blood transfusions or organ transplants.

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    How Can I Help

    Here are some things you can do to help your friend:

    • Don’t tell anyone about your friend’s HIV. A health condition like HIV is personal, private health information. Tell your friend that you will not break his or her trust by telling others.
    • Be there to talk about your friend’s HIV if he or she wants to. It’s OK to ask questions about living with HIV. But if your friend doesn’t want to talk about it, move on to another topic.
    • Do things together that can reduce stress. For example, go for a walk, hang out with friends, or just do something together that you both enjoy.
    • Be a good influence on your friend. Avoid activities that can have bad health effects like smoking , alcohol, and drugs.
    • If your friend has to miss school because of an appointment or illness, offer to bring homework to him or her.
    • If people say mean things about your friend’s HIV, try to help them understand the facts about HIV. They may be acting this way because they don’t know what happens to someone with HIV or how it is spread. If things get too mean, ask a teacher or other adult for help.

    If your friend seems very sad or overwhelmed, ask if talking to a therapist might be helpful. If your friend seems interested, you can talk to your friend’s parents together or you can go with your friend to a local health clinic and ask for resources for helping someone with HIV/AIDS.

    Ask if your friend would be interested in online resources, such as:

    What Are The Types Of Hiv Tests

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    There are three types of human immunodeficiency virus tests used to diagnose HIV infections

    • Antibody tests: These tests check for HIV antibodies in blood or oral fluid.
    • Antigen/antibody tests: These help to detect both HIV antibodies and antigens in the blood.
    • Nucleic acid tests: These look for HIV in the blood.

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