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AIDS

Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a life threatening disease and a major cause of concern for the government. HIV is a virus that kills or damages cells of the body's immune system. As the cure for AIDS is not known yet, it is important that people acquire as much preventive information about AIDS as possible.

HOW DO YOU GET AIDS?
No one actually "get" AIDS directly.  One might get infected with HIV, and later on develop AIDS. One can get infected with HIV from anyone who's infected, even if they don't look like sick or tested as HIV-positive yet. The blood, vaginal fluid, semen, and breast milk of people infected with HIV has enough of the virus in it to infect other people. Most people get the HIV virus by:

  • HIV most often spreads through unprotected sex with an infected person.
  • AIDS may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of an infected person.
  • Women can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth.

Sign and symptoms
The first signs of HIV infection may be swollen glands and flu-like symptoms. Some people get fever, headache, sore muscles and joints, stomach ache, or a skin rash for one or two weeks, chills coupled with excessive sweating, especially at nights, lesions in the mouth, sore throat, persistent cough, shortness of breath, tumors, headaches, memory lapses, swelling in the joints, pain in various parts of the body, vision problems and a regular feeling of lethargy are some of the of symptoms.  Most people think it's the flu. Some people have no symptoms. These may come and go a month or two after infection. Severe symptoms may not appear until months or years later.

Preventive Steps
Here are a few steps that can help check the spread of HIV AIDS:

  • Safe sex: It will just take a single episode of unprotected sex with an infected partner for HIV to be passed. Therefore safer sex, which would imply use of condoms, is the best way to protect oneself from AIDS.
  • Using clean needles will prevent the risk of infection through injecting drug use.
  • The HIV positive mothers can minimize the risk of passing on the infection to the baby by going for a caesarean birth, not breast feeding the child and using anti-retroviral therapy.
  • It is important that everyone should spread AIDS awareness and the methods that need to be followed to check its spread.
  • Awareness Programmes for the Youth: Media campaign, education on AIDS for those attending school and those out of school and the provision of supportive services like counseling will help to spread health care awareness among the young.

Drug treatment
There is no cure for AIDS. There is no way to "clear" the HIV out of your body. But there are different drugs that can slow down the HIV virus, the damage to your immune system.

A person who is HIV positive and starts antiretroviral medicine early there are very good chances of better life and one can live his life. The aim of antiretroviral treatment is to keep the amount of HIV in the body at a low level. This stops any weakening of the immune system and allows it to recover from any damage that HIV might have caused already.

Taking antiretroviral medicine is the main type of treatment for HIV or AIDS. It is not a cure, but it can stop people from becoming ill for many years. The treatment consists of drugs that have to be taken every day for the rest of a person’s life. The CD4 test is used to determine when a person should start treatment.

Taking a combination of three or more anti-HIV drugs is sometimes referred to as Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART). There may be a need for lifestyle changes to accommodate the medication.

Taking an active role in any disease is an important adjunct to treatment. Consideration of alternative therapies in combination with conventional medicine may offer additional opportunities for persons living with HIV/AIDS to be proactively involved in their treatment.

There are many kinds of alternative approaches to treatment now like-

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Acupuncture
  • Siddha Medicine

Living with HIV: emotional needs and support
Many misconceptions abound in society about AIDS like working, socializing and living with infected people cause the disease.AIDS virus is not contracted through touching, hugging, kissing, massage, sharing toilet seats, drinking or eating from utensils used by an infected person or any other mode of casual contact.  HIV positive people need support and guidance to make living with their condition easier.  Having supportive family and community environments, as well as strong networks of people living with HIV are key to promoting adherence to ARV treatment.

Mind-body approaches such as meditation, visualization and guided imagery helps to reduce susceptibility to AIDS-related infections and make life easier. An HIV positive person often develops a tendency for suicide, due to stress, isolation and fear. They require support for coming to terms with their infectionRelatives and friends will also be deeply affected by what the HIV-positive person is going through, yet they support them to lead a normal life.

They bear heavy emotional burden and depression is common in people with HIV. The fear of being isolated from family and friends, fear over how the disease will progress and worries about infecting others always lurks in their mind.

  1. Counseling can be helpful in order to come to terms with the diagnosis and resulting feelings, and as a precursor to dealing with the virus itself. 
  2. Support groups, NGO’s etc offer advice on all aspects of coping with HIV, these groups could allay any fears or anxieties that have resulted from rumors or misinformation.
  3. Peer-support groups run by people with HIV can help those living with the virus to realize they are not alone in what they have gone through, and they might be able to offer the best advice.
  4. It is good to share experience with friends and people from help groups, this reduces stress and related anxiety.

The support from family and friends helps people living with HIV and those affected can learn to manage the emotional impact that the epidemic continues to have on millions of people worldwide. While there is no single way to deal with the emotional burden but it is possible to find ways to successfully cope.