I was told about a really good HIV & AIDS website today... www.vir.us. it is a fun website dedicated to teaching about HIV & AIDS.
I took the 'protected' test on www.vir.us, at the moment there are only 7 'protected' people in the whole of Ireland.
Please take a look at the website and take the quiz (and watch the clips!), it only takes a couple of seconds...
I was chatting to a good friend of mine the other day about HIV & AIDS and it occurred to me that if I was HIV+ I would be more worried about telling people of my status than upset about actually discovering that I was infected!! What a wierd thing to say!! But it is true!
I am not afraid of HIV, at all, it is just a virus. A virus that is very manageable. The phrase is, LIVING WITH HIV!! Just like someone lives with a disability or lives with diabetes or lives with some other chronic illness.
HIV is now a chronic illness and not a death sentence, since the introduction of ARVs (HIV medication). These drugs have done for HIV what insulin did for diabetes in the 1950s. The international community must do two things: CREATE WIDER ACCESS TO HIV MEDICATIONS and DISPEL THE STIGMA AROUND HIV & AIDS in order to combat this pandemic.
Global HIV experts believe that a combination of: 1. POLITICAL UNREST 2. POOR GOVERNMENT SUPPORT 3. POLITICAL DENIAL has fueled the HIV & AIDS epidemic in South Africa.
The HIV & AIDS epidemic emerged in South Africa in the early 1980s.
Some facts about HIV & AIDS in South Africa:
- It is estimated that 5.5 million people are living with HIV, over 10% of the population
- 1/4 people aged between 15 and 50 years are HIV positive
- Every day more than 1,700 people die AIDS-related deaths
- Currently it is estimated that there are 600,000 AIDS orphans
- A 2004 survey reported that South Africans spend more time at funerals than weddings, haircuts, or grocery shopping
Last week I was speaking to a gentleman who recently volunteered with an organisation that builds houses in Africa. He returned from his experience convinced that sharing a bottle of water with a HIV+ person spreads the virus. IT DOES NO SUCH THING!!!! A person CANNOT become infected with HIV by shaking a HIV+ person's hand, by hugging them, by using the toilet after them or drinking from the same glass, OR by being exposed to coughing or sneezing. Saliva carries a negligible viral load, so even open-mouthed kissing is considered a low risk.
Prophylaxis means disease prevention. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for HIV involves taking antiretroviral medications (ARVs) as soon as possible after exposure to HIV, in order to prevent HIV infection. PEP has reduced the rate of HIV infection from workplace exposures by 79%. The treatment should ideally begin within 1-2 hours after exposure to HIV but certainly within 72 hours. Treatment with 2 or 3 ARVs should continue for 4 weeks, if tolerated (harsh side effects). PEP is only available with a prescription.