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HIV is Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It infects and weakens the body’s immune system. It survives in body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal and cervical fluids. ook and feel perfectly healthy and can work like normal persons. They may not even know that they are infected and can infect others. PLWHA (People living with HIV/AIDS) is a term commonly used for HIV/AIDS patients.
- A = Acquired - One gets it from somebody infected. It is not hereditary.
- I = Immune - It affects the immune system of the body.
- D = Deficiency - Inadequacy of the body’s immune system to fight infections.
- S = Syndrome - A group of diseases or symptoms. It is not just one single disease.
AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection. A person with HIV is said to have got AIDS when his/her immune system is totally broken down and opportunistic infections (infections that take opportunity to cause diseases because HIV has weakened the body’s immune system) invade his/her body. It may take more than 8 to 10 years for a person to develop AIDS after the initial infection with HIV. Most HIV positive people will eventually develop AIDS. Women are more vulnerable to HIV infection because of the following reasons:
- · Limited access to information and educational messages.
- · Biologic
al vulnerability- large vaginal area and delicate vaginal membrane allow the virus to pass through easily.
- · Increased risk of infection from man to woman - Higher concentration of virus in the semen; HIV transmission from man to woman more rapid than in the reverse direction.
- · Many women suffer from asymptomatic STIs which facilitates HIV transmission.
- · Poor access to healthcare services.
- · Different social norms - most societies are male dominated; women having no say in matters of sexual relationships.
- · Lower literacy rates.
- · Lower socio-economic status- women often economically
- dependent on men.
- · Passive attitude of women towards sexual issues.
- · Women often require blood transfusion (during childbirth or for treating anemia) and face the risk of infection due to the possibility of infected blood transfusion.
- · Lesser social support when infected.
Modes of HIV Transmission
Four main ways or routes of transmission of HIV are: 1. By transfusion of infected blood or blood products. 2. Having unprotected sex (without a condom) with HIV infected person. 3. By infected needles, syringes and other instruments 4. By an infected mother to her unborn child during pregnancy or childbirth. Ways in which HIV is not transmitted HIV is not spread through: · Casual contacts such as shaking hands, hugging, eating or drinking from the same utensils, etc. · Traveling together · Donating blood · Mosquito bites (the virus doesn’t survive in mosquito’s body) Normal use of toilets and urinals · Coughing, sneezing (not an air borne disease) · Caring for people living with HIV/AIDS
Preventive measures to be taken for protection from HIV include: · Having appropriate information about HIV/AIDS, and skills to make correct choices. · Making sure the blood is tested before transfusion. · Abstaining from sex. · Resisting negative peer pressure. · Avoiding alcohol and drugs. · Not having unprotected sex. · Having a mutually faithful sexual relationship with an uninfected person. · Practicing safer sex. · Not injecting drugs. · Not sharing needles and syringes with anyone. · Pregnant women to get tested for HIV. · Universal precautions to be observed. How young people can contribute/What can they do:
· Learn and understand basic facts about HIV and its prevention. · Develop life skills to protect themselves and others. · Assess personal risk for HIV infection. · Share information with others. · Dispel myths. · Tackle stigma in school and in the community. · Avoid alcohol and use of drugs that may affect judgment. · Treat PLWHA with compassion, not discrimination. · Practice abstinence (not having sex with anyone).
There is no cure for HIV/AIDS yet. However, now Anti Retro Viral (ARV) drugs are available which stop people with HIV from becoming ill for many years. ARV treatment for HIV or ART consists of drugs that have to be taken by the HIV person for the rest of his/her life. ART increases the person’s ability to fight the disease. The drugs control the reproduction of the HIV virus, there by reducing HIV levels in blood and semen. They slow down the progression of HIV-related disease and make people with HIV live longer. They reduce symptoms and delay the onset of AIDS. In other words, ART converts HIV infection from a fatal disease to a chronic disease. But they do not cure HIV infection. 4.5 Vaccination Vaccination plays an important role in the prevention of diseases. It increases Immune power of human body to fight against microorganisms that causes disease. Because of vaccination, body is always prepared to remove disease causing microorganism from the body. Vaccine (injection) of any particular disease contains disease causing microorganism of that disease only. Many times these microorganisms are killed or weakened. Vaccine stimulates body’s Immune system to recognize disease causing microorganism and destroy it. Methods of administration: Administration of vaccine may be: · Oral (E.g. Polio drops) · By injection (intramuscular, intradermal, subcutaneous injections like BCG, DPT, Hepatitis etc.) · By puncture · Transdermal (Under the skin) 4.6 Immunization Schedule Under National Immunization Schedule, vaccination against some common Communicable diseases is done which is essential for child development and survival. These diseases are Polio, Whooping cough (Pertussis), Tetanus, Measles, Diptheria and Tuberculosis. Most of the child deaths are due to these diseases so it is very important to do active immunization in children from first year of their life.