December, we are finally in the last month of 2022, and what a busy month it will be. Before we begin the festivities, we are going to point you towards HIV and AIDS awareness month with world AIDS day falling on the first of the month. This day honours those who have lost their lives to AIDS and to those infected with HIV. This day aims to break the stigma and misconception around AIDS and educate people on safe sex and prevent the spread of the disease.
Over 38 million people live with HIV around the world and over 40 million have lost their lives to AIDS since 1984.
What are HIV and AIDS?
HIV is human immunodeficiency virus; it damages the cells of the immune system and weakens your ability to fight disease and infections.
AIDS is acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It is an umbrella term for several life-threatening infections and illnesses that happen to you when your immune system has been extremely compromised and damaged by HIV.
HIV is found in the body fluids of an infected person, this includes semen, vaginal, and anal fluids, blood, and breast milk. It can be transmitted sexually or through sharing needles or other injecting items as well as from an infected mother to baby during pregnancy.
Symptoms of HIV include fever, headache, muscle pain, weight loss, and rash. These symptoms can be very mild and can go unnoticed.
HIV is easy to test for. If you are concerned that you might have been exposed to HIV, seek medical advice ASAP. The only way to determine if you have it is through an HIV test, this involves testing blood or saliva, and you get the results back instantly. You can prevent yourself from contracting HIV if you take an anti-HIV medication within three days of exposure. An early diagnosis also helps your chances of living with HIV as it means you can start treatment sooner and prevent the spread of HIV to others.
Antiretroviral medicines are used to treat HIV as they stop the virus from replicating in the body and this allows the immune system to repair itself and prevent further damage.
AIDS is when someone has both HIV and at least one other AIDS-defining disease such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, or cancer. AIDS is life-threatening but not all people who have HIV will go on to have AIDS. It can be prevented with adequate treatment.
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