There are facts you need to know about HIV/AIDS that most people may not even be aware of.HIV is a lifelong infection caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. The virus belongs to the lentiform virus which is a class of retroviruses.

Here are some facts you need to know about HIV/AIDS;

  • About 40 million people are infected with HIV worldwide with Nigeria having -high prevalence rate. About 2 million Nigerians are affected by HIV. In Nigeria, about 2.9 percent of the adult population has HIV with about 160,000 AIDS-related deaths annually
  • AIDS occurs due to progressive failure of the body’s immune system which allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancer to thrive.
  • AIDS is the terminal stage of HIV infection
  • HIV can be transmitted through sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal, anal), through contact with; blood, pre-ejaculate, semen, and vaginal fluids. It can also be transmitted from mother to child; during pregnancy, via the birth canal due to exposure to the mother’s blood and through breastfeeding.
  • HIV cannot survive more than a few minutes outside the body but it can survive in dried blood at room temperature for six (6) days.
  • The virus does not spread through casual contacts such as preparing food, sharing towels and bedding, or via swimming pools, telephones, sneezing, or toilet seats. Transmission through kissing alone is rare except the person has a mouth sore.
  • Factors that increase your chances of having HIV include; multiple sexual partners, homosexuality, sharing of used needles, use of unscreened blood, having unprotected sex, and in healthcare workers due to accidental needle prick.
  • Young women have a higher HIV prevalence and are infected earlier in life than men of the same age group.
  • HIV affects the cells that protect the body’s immunity and act as the first line of defense of the body such as; CD4 T helper cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells.
  • The clinical symptoms of HIV begin to manifest with 2-4 weeks of infection in some people. The symptoms they manifest with include; fever, weight loss, headache, mouth sores, loss of appetite, night sweats. These symptoms disappear after a few weeks. However, many people don’t have symptoms when they are infected but they can continue to spread the infection.
  • Rapid multiplication of the virus leads to further weakening of the immune system which leads to life-threatening opportunistic infections and tumors such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, candida infection, Toxoplasmosis (a brain infection), lymphoma.
  • HIV infection is commonly diagnosed by blood tests
  • Early testing, recognition of the signs and symptoms of HIV infection, and starting treatment for HIV as soon as possible can slow the growth of HIV, prevent AIDS, and decrease the risk of transmission to another person.
  • There is no effective cure for HIV. It can, however, be controlled by the use of antiretroviral drugs (ARDs) such as nevirapine, lamivudine.
  • Those that are treated with ARDs can live as long as those who don’t have HIV. Refusal to use ARDs can lead to death within a few years of infection.
  • HIV is prevented through undergoing a voluntary test, avoid sharing of sharps, practice safe sex, screening blood before transfusion, prevention of mother to child transmission through early booking and routine investigations.

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