09 December 2011
The World AIDS day is held annually on December 1 for people to unite in the "fight" against HIV. HIV stands for the human immunodeficiency virus.
It is a virus which attacks the body's immune system − the body's defence against diseases.
It is now estimated that 33,3 million people are living with HIV.
Unfortunately over 25 million people have died in under twenty-five years. This death toll has made it one of the most destructive pandemics in the world.
Education and implementation of health awareness programmes such as this column will only go so far though.
Many of us have read a book, listened to a pastor and now we see billboards around town communicating about HIV. Do these media forms change our lifestyle?
All of us need to improve our accountability and social responsibility for implementing change in our lives.
Change requires action and the action steps are commonly different from our educational and familial upbringing.
The adage we live by is, "change is life". If we are not changing, we are dying.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV can be transmitted through infected bodily fluids. Sex without a Condom is one of the most common ways of transmitting the disease. HIV can also be spread through infected needles, syringes and other drug injecting tools.
Can HIV be transmitted by kissing?
HIV cannot be spread through kissing, spitting, or biting unless there is advanced bleeding of the gums of the mouth.
Can I get it from toilets?
HIV cannot be spread through sitting on toilet seats or washing your hands in the facility. One should ensure cleanliness to prevent other conditions from occurring, however.
My spouse and I are HIV positive, can we have children?
We have received several emails asking about babies and childbirth. If you and your spouse are HIV positive, you can give birth to a child safely without transmitting the infection to the child.
The most important factor at reducing the transmission risk of the virus is closely working with your healthcare professional.
Is there a vaccine for HIV?
There is no vaccine and no cure for HIV. How do you reduce and eliminate your risk?
Implement the knowledge you receive. Lifestyle factors are difficult to change, but would you if it was a matter of life or death?
What about ARVs?
Standard anti-retroviral therapy (ART) consists of the use of at least three anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs to maximally suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of HIV disease.
Huge reductions have been seen in rates of death and suffering when use is made of a potent anti-retroviral regimen. − World Health Organisation
Reduce your risk, change your mindset The common challenges that we see as healthcare professionals include short-term thinking and narrow-mindedness.
We live in the "now versus tomorrow". It is easy to get caught up in emotional wants and needs and sacrifice tomorrow by sabotaging today. When we do not have rules or principles to live by, chaos occurs.
We would like to thank you for your many questions. This is a reader-directed column that focuses on difficult topics. Every email will receive a response.
This information is not meant to replace your doctor's recommendation, it is an educational tool.