Managing Illness As A Parent
Although medical advances now allow people with HIV to live full, healthy lives, you may have times where you or your partner is unwell or needs medical care.
As with any longer-term illness, this can impact on your ability to earn an income, manage a household or raise children.
Living with chronic illness can be a challenge and sometimes families need extra support. Trying to sort things out on your own can make life seem overwhelming. Dont be afraid to ask for help from expert organisations that support people with HIV.
How Can People Living With Hiv Prepare For Covid
As well as following the general prevention advice above, people living with HIV can take extra steps to look after their health during this time.
- Try to stock-up on your antiretroviral treatment, or any other medication you need to take, so you have enough for at least 30 days, ideally for three months.
- Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date .
- Know how to get in touch with your health care facility and peer supporters.
- Have a plan for if you need to stay at home, including how to get food and medicine.
- Make sure you are eating well and exercising as best you can .
- Look after your mental health and seek support if you need it.
Your clinic or health care provider should let you know if there are any changes or disruptions to services during COVID-19. If you are having trouble accessing the things you need, including food and medication, call your usual treatment provider.
During this time, some governments are imposing lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus. This may be particularly difficult for some people. Keeping in touch with people remotely, such as online, by phone or by video chat, can help you to stay socially connected and mentally healthy.
Getting Pregnant When Both Parents Have Hiv
Seroconcordant couples , can have an HIV-negative child. If both partners are on treatment, the risk of either partner transmitting HIV to their baby is almost zero.
If you are a seroconcordant couple and you are thinking of becoming pregnant it is important to speak with an obstetrician and an HIV specialist to minimise the risk of transmitting HIV to your baby.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv
After the first month or so, HIV enters the clinical latency stage. This stage can last from a few years to a few decades.
Some people dont have any symptoms during this time, while others may have minimal or nonspecific symptoms. A nonspecific symptom is a symptom that doesnt pertain to one specific disease or condition.
These nonspecific symptoms may include:
- headaches and other aches and pains
- swollen lymph nodes
- recurrent oral or vaginal yeast infections
As with the early stage, HIV is still transferable during this time even without symptoms and can be transmitted to another person.
However, a person wont know they have HIV unless they get tested. If someone has these symptoms and thinks they may have been exposed to HIV, its important that they get tested.
HIV symptoms at this stage may come and go, or they may progress rapidly. This progression can be slowed substantially with treatment.
With the consistent use of this antiretroviral therapy, chronic HIV can last for decades and will likely not develop into AIDS, if treatment was started early enough.
The cause of the rash determines:
- how it looks
- how it can be treated depends on the cause
How Can You Tell If You Have Hiv
The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. You cant rely on symptoms to tell whether you have HIV.
Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information so you can take steps to keep yourself and your partner healthy:
- If you test positive, you can take medicine to treat HIV. By taking HIV medicine daily as prescribed, you can make the amount of HIV in your blood very lowso low that a test cant detect it . Getting and keeping an undetectable viral load is the best thing you can do to stay healthy. If your viral load stays undetectable, you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
- If you test negative, there are more HIV prevention tools available today than ever before.
- If you are pregnant, you should be tested for HIV so that you can begin treatment if you’re HIV-positive. If an HIV-positive woman is treated for HIV early in her pregnancy, the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby can be very low.
Use the HIV Services Locator to find an HIV testing site near you.
HIV self-testing is also an option. Self-testing allows people to take an HIV test and find out their result in their own home or other private location. You can buy a self-test kit at a pharmacy or online, or your health care provider may be able to order one for you. Some health departments or community-based organizations also provide self-test kits for free.
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Hiv And Aids Timeline
From the bleakest early days of the epidemic, Johns Hopkins has been a leader in understanding, treating and preventing HIV and AIDS. Explore 35 years of progress, here and around the world, including the nations first HIV-positive to HIV-positive organ transplants, performed at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2016.
Because I Have Hiv Will I Eventually Get Aids
Though it cannot be said with surety for how long the average person who is HIV positive can live things are changing due to advances in medical science. A person even with full-blown AIDS can live for many years.Majority of the people who are HIV positive will develop AIDS during their life, within a span of 10 years after contracting the virus or more. With early intervention and treatment
These are some of the variables that can determine how long a person who is HIV positive can live:
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Suspected Or Known Exposure To Hiv But No Symptoms
If you have not been tested for HIV, call your doctor if:
- You suspect that you have been exposed to HIV.
- You have engaged in high-risk behaviour and are concerned that you were exposed to HIV.
- Your sex partner engages in high-risk behaviour.
- Your sex partner may have been exposed to HIV.
- Your sex partner has HIV.
- You have any of the symptoms listed above.
Getting tested for HIV can be scary, but the condition can be managed with treatment. So it is important to get tested if you think you have been exposed.
Effective Treatments Can Reduce Hiv Transmission
When someone with HIV is on antiretroviral treatment and consistently has very low levels of virus they are not infectious and cannot sexually transmit the virus.
This may be true for sexual transmission during pregnancy, but researchers are still gathering more evidence before they can be confident it is true for transmission during pregnancy, labour and delivery, and during breastfeeding.
As long as the HIV-positive partner maintains a stable undetectable viral load and these medications are taken strictly as prescribed, HIV transmission to a negative partner is not possible.
Speak to your treating doctor if you would like to explore these newer prevention drugs.
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Treatment Helps Prevent Transmission To Others
- If you have an undetectable viral load, you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
- Having an undetectable viral load may also help prevent transmission from injection drug use. We dont have data about whether having an undetectable viral load prevents transmission through sharing needles, syringes, or other injection equipment . It very likely reduces the risk, but we dont know by how much.
- Having an undetectable viral load also helps prevent transmission from mother to baby. If a mother with HIV takes HIV medicine as prescribed throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery and gives HIV medicine to her baby for 4 to 6 weeks after birth, the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby can be 1% or less.
- Having an undetectable viral load reduces the risk of transmitting HIV to the baby through breastfeeding, but doesnt eliminate the risk. The current recommendation in the United States is that mothers with HIV should not breastfeed their babies.
British Columbia Specific Information
Human Immunodeficiency Virus causes an infection that damages the immune system. The immune system is the part of the body that fights infection and disease. If untreated, HIV infection will lead to a serious disease called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome .
For information on HIV infection and care in British Columbia, visit BC Centre for Disease Control and BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. For information on HIV drug coverage in B.C., please visit the Ministry of Health BC PharmaCare website.
In B.C. HIV testing guidelines recommend that everyone have an HIV test at least every 5 years. They recommend more frequent testing for people who belong to populations that have a greater chance of having HIV, are pregnant, experience a change in their health that suggests HIV, or if someone requests a test. For information on HIV testing, see HealthLinkBC File #08m HIV and HIV Tests and HealthLinkBC File #38a HIV Testing in Pregnancy.
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Symptoms Of Hiv Infection
Most people experience a short flu-like illness 2 to 6 weeks after HIV infection, which lasts for a week or 2.
After these symptoms disappear, HIV may not cause any symptoms for many years, although the virus continues to damage your immune system.
This means many people with HIV do not know they’re infected.
Anyone who thinks they could have HIV should get tested.
Some people are advised to have regular tests as they’re at particularly high risk.
What If My Baby Is Hiv
With excellent health care, the mother-to-child HIV transmission rate is almost zero.
In the very rare case, your baby is HIV-positive, there are many supportive professionals and organisations that can help you during this difficult time.
You can expect welcoming, non-judgemental and compassionate care for yourself and your baby.
Medical care for babies with HIV is highly specialised. Early diagnosis means that a baby can begin effective treatment and have every chance for a long, healthy life.
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What Tests Can Help Monitor Your Hiv Infection
Your health care provider will use blood tests to monitor your HIV infection. The results of these blood tests, which measure the amount of HIV virus and the number of CD4 cells in your blood, will help you and your health care provider understand how well your HIV treatment is working to control your HIV infection. These test results will also help your health care provider decide whether he or she should make changes to your treatment.
These blood tests include regular CD4 counts and viral load tests. Read about these tests below.
What Is Hiv Positive
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV positive means being infected with the HIV virus. Being infected with the HIV virus does not mean the person hasAIDS. People infected with HIV can be treated with HIV medicines. HIV medicines do not cure HIV but can help people infected with the virus to live longer, and healthier lives. Treatment with HIV medicines can prevent HIV from advancing to AIDS. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. AIDS modifies and corrupts the immune system, making people susceptible to infections and diseases. The susceptibility worsens as the syndrome progresses.
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What Are The Types Of Hiv/aids Medicines
There are several different types of HIV/AIDS medicines. Some work by blocking or changing enzymes that HIV needs to make copies of itself. This prevents HIV from copying itself, which reduces the amount of HIV in the body. Several medicines do this:
- Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors block an enzyme called reverse transcriptase
- Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors bind to and later change reverse transcriptase
- Integrase inhibitors block an enzyme called integrase
- Protease inhibitors block an enzyme called protease
Some HIV/AIDS medicines interfere with HIV’s ability to infect CD4 immune system cells:
- Fusion inhibitors block HIV from entering the cells
- CCR5 antagonists and post-attachment inhibitors block different molecules on the CD4 cells. To infect a cell, HIV has to bind to two types of molecules on the cell’s surface. Blocking either of these molecules prevents HIV from entering the cells.
- Attachment inhibitors bind to a specific protein on the outer surface of HIV. This prevents HIV from entering the cell.
In some cases, people take more than one medicine:
- Pharmacokinetic enhancers boost the effectiveness of certain HIV/AIDS medicines. A pharmacokinetic enhancer slows the breakdown of the other medicine. This allows that medicine to stay in the body longer at a higher concentration.
- Multidrug combinations include a combination of two or more different HIV/AIDS medicines
How Hiv Is Diagnosed
An HIV-positive diagnosis means that tests have confirmed the presence of the human immunodeficiency virus in your body. It is a process in which a preliminary test is accompanied by one or more confirmatory tests to ensure an accurate diagnosis.
There are several tests commonly used to diagnose HIV:
- Antibody tests, also known as enzyme-linked immunoassay tests, are blood- or saliva-based tests that detect antibodies produced by your body in response to HIV. These include traditional blood-based tests that can take several days to return results or rapid saliva-based tests that can return results within 30 minutes.
- Combination antibody/antigen tests, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , are blood-based tests that detect both antibodies and a protein on the surface of the virus called p24 .
- In-home HIV tests are antibody tests that require either a finger-prick blood sample or a swab of saliva from your mouth. The finger-prick option is a mail-in test that are processed in a lab, while the saliva-based option can return results at home within 20 to 40 minutes.
A positive result with any of these tests would require confirmation using one or more blood-based lab tests recommended by the CDC .
When confirmed with the appropriate tests, a positive result can be considered definitive evidence of an HIV infection.
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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.
Whats The Hiv Window Period
As soon as someone contracts HIV, it starts to reproduce in their body. The persons immune system reacts to the antigens by producing antibodies .
The time between exposure to HIV and when it becomes detectable in the blood is called the HIV window period. Most people develop detectable HIV antibodies within 23 to 90 days after transmission.
If a person takes an HIV test during the window period, its likely theyll receive a negative result. However, they can still transmit the virus to others during this time.
If someone thinks they may have been exposed to HIV but tested negative during this time, they should repeat the test in a few months to confirm . And during that time, they need to use condoms or other barrier methods to prevent possibly spreading HIV.
Someone who tests negative during the window might benefit from post-exposure prophylaxis . This is medication taken after an exposure to prevent getting HIV.
PEP needs to be taken as soon as possible after the exposure it should be taken no later than 72 hours after exposure but ideally before then.
Another way to prevent getting HIV is pre-exposure prophylaxis . A combination of HIV drugs taken before potential exposure to HIV, PrEP can lower the risk of contracting or transmitting HIV when taken consistently.
Timing is important when testing for HIV.
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Protect Others From Becoming Hiv
Because you’re HIV-positive, you can give the virus to others, even if you don’t feel sick. This can happen through unprotected sex or by sharing needles. You can protect others by using condoms and clean needles. By doing this, you can also protect yourself from other strains of HIV. Also, don’t donate blood.
If you are a woman, you can spread HIV to your baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. Ask your doctor what you can do to protect your child. Proper treatment has nearly wiped out the spread of infection to newborns in the U.S.
Uninfected sexual partners can take a daily pill called PrEP for extra protection against HIV.