Living With HIV And AIDS

AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); it destroys a type of lymphocyte that is part of the immune system, which fights off infectious disease. When a person becomes infected with AIDS, their immune system becomes impaired and inefficient.

You can visit to see how you can protect yourself from this disease. You can see how you can identify the symptoms as well. It is really important that you identify the symptoms. As you get to the treatment at an early stage, you can get the virus under control as well.

Each year hundreds of teens become infected with HIV due to their having unprotected sex or sharing needles. HIV and AIDS is a preventable disease. No one has to have the disease. When you make a choice not to protect yourself, you make a choice to put yourself at risk for HIV or AIDS.

People who have other sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and other diseases are at risk of contracting HIV who are having unprotected sexual contact with infected partners, because their immune systems are already compromised.

In pregnancy a baby within the womb can get the virus, as well as after the infant is born. The baby can contract HIV from being delivered through the mother’s vagina, and it is even possible to get the disease from mother’s milk.

Because the person with HIV has an impaired immune system, he/she is unable to fight off many types of infections, particularly tuberculosis and pneumonia, as well as meningitis.

How do they know they have it?

Symptoms of HIV don’t usually show up for a long time, so therefore it may be 10 years before a person finds out he/she is infected. The signs and symptoms of a diagnosed case of AIDS include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Serious weight loss
  • Frequent fevers that last for days and weeks
  • Night sweats
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Skin rashes
  • Sores in the mouth and throat
  • Genital rashes and sores
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Poor memory
  • Yeast infections and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women.
  • Prevention and treatment
  • The best way to prevent HIV and AIDS is to:
  • Abstain from all sexual activity.
  • Always use latex condoms, because they are the least permeable to the virus.
  • Avoid contact with all body fluids
  • If you use drugs, do not share needles

For a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS, a doctor will do a blood test or a swab of the inner cheek. If positive for HIV, patients can choose to have his/her family doctor treat or they can choose to be treated anonymously.

When diagnosed with AIDS, it is quite normal to be in a state of shock, and then go into a state of mourning because it is well known that AIDS is incurable, so therefore they might feel they have been given a death sentence. The next rational thoughts may be: how long will I live, or how to plan the funeral.

AIDS is still widely misunderstood. There is still a stigma attached to the disease, whether we want to admit it or not. If you have the disease, you might think twice about checking the little box at the dentist’s office for fear that you might be treated differently.