HIV: Now What?

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In the vast population of the world, many people have contracted HIV, human immunodeficiency virus. HIV is commonly acquired through unprotected anal and vaginal sexual intercourse and recreational drug users who share needles. Depending on where the person resides, and their access to medical care, their life expectancy can be affected exponentially. Now having been told you’re HIV positive, here’s what to expect now.

Is there a cure for HIV?

There is not a definitive cure for HIV. However, the disease itself is treatable depending on specific factors. These factors are dependent on what stage the person is in; acute HIV infection, clinical latency or AIDS, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Other factors include lifestyle, sexual activity, and risk behaviors such as the use of drugs requiring needles or unprotected sex.

 

 

How is HIV treated?

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the primary treatment of HIV infections. These types of medications work against the HIV, controlling the growth and reducing chances of transmission. ART combined with other medicines known as an HIV regimen help control symptoms, slow growth, decrease transmission probability with the overall goal of the person living a longer, healthier life. The caveat to this treatment is the person will always be HIV positive

Will the HIV be evident to others?

No, it’s not possible in any way to look at someone and determine they have HIV. In the first stages, the symptoms come across more like the common flu rather than the virus itself. Unless you tell them, no one will know you have HIV.

Is HIV status private?

As with the HIPPA of 1997, health insurance privacy and portability act, your health information is confidential and against the law to share any information with the public. However, depending on the state laws where you reside, you may be required to inform certain persons of the HIV. Also, health care practitioners, clinical laboratories, and social service professionals are required to report to the local health department. HIPPA applies here as they report the statistical number but not the names of individuals. The confidentiality is crucial in certain situations to prevent any discrimination.

Can HIV be passed onto children?

Mothers who are HIV-positive and breastfeed their infants have a high probability of passing on the virus. Infants born to mothers with positive HIV status are also at a higher risk of contracting the virus due to the high exposure of blood. A father is who is HIV-positive can pass on the virus to the mother and child. It’s best to consult with an obstetrician if trying to become pregnant or already pregnant with a positive HIV status.

What are the myths about HIV?

The myth that one can contract the virus by just being near an infected host is ludicrous. Older uneducated generations have believed that breathing the same air, hugging, holding hands, or even kissing the cheek of an HIV-positive person meant they were infected too. While an HIV-positive individual will need to ensure no open sores, blood exposure or unprotected intercourse happens, HIV is not transmittable through casual touches or simple affections like hugging and kissing. Educate yourself and those around you that life will be healthy as much as it can be.

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