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Frequently Asked Questions About HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS still remains a source of public health concern despite years of medical advancement. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), out of over 70 million that have been infected thus far, up to 35 million have died. As at 2015, over 36 million men, women and children were living with HIV/AIDS. Most of these reside in Africa. In fact, Nigeria and South Africa account for a third of the total number of persons living with HIV/AIDS. Is there a cure now for HIV/AIDS?  How long should a  person with HIV/AIDS get treated? What type of birth is most suitable? Here, we consider recent evidence on some of the frequently asked questions about HIV/AIDS.

What Should I Do If I Test Positive?

Getting tested is a key prevention strategy for reducing the spread of HIV. However, many individuals often worry about the what will happen if the  outcome of their HIV test is unfavorable. Well, many test centers have established programs of support for following HIV testing. The package of support intervention includes:

  • Post –test counseling
  • Partner testing service
  • Re-testing
  • Appropriate and timely linkage for Anti-retroviral initiation and peer support
  • All persons with HIV are entitled to these services

Where can one get support For HIV? There are ART centres in the PHC, secondary and tertiary levels of care.

If I Am HIV Positive, Can I Have Children?

Although mother to child transmission of HIV can occur during pregnancy , Labor, delivery or during breast feeding  is managed under a programme called prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT). This aims to eliminate the risk of HIV transmission to the newborn. Persons living with HIV/AIDS  can have children under the programme. Adequate provisions are in place to protect the baby from HIV during delivery and breastfeeding.

 

How Long Do I Need To Continue With Antiretroviral therapy?

Antiretroviral therapy should be initiated as soon as possible and should be continued irrespective of CD4 count in order to remain healthy.

What Type Of Birth/ Delivery Is Best For People Living With HIV/AIDS?

There have been arguments for and against vaginal delivery. For instance, some experts believe that Caesarian sections may be indicated if the viral load is quite high. According to them, this may potentially reduce the risk of transmission. However, the evidence for these claims has not been consistent.

In view of that, the most recent guidelines recommend that HIV positive women who are on ART should be allowed to deliver vaginally where there are no obstetric contra- indications. Since ceasarian section is a major surgery with attendant complications, the decision should always involve evaluating the risks and benefits.

Although vagina delivery remains the primary delivery mode of choice, it should always follow standard obstetric guidelines.

Does Water Birth Delivery Reduce HIV Exposure?

One form of vaginal delivery gaining popularity is water birth. Water birth is a soothing and relaxing way of giving birth. And some studies suggest that water dilutes the viral load of HIV, reducing risk of transmission to the health care workers. However, it is not suitable for everyone. Women with certain medical conditions such as epilepsy,  hypertension are generally advised not to have water birth. Also, the risk of transmitting hepatitis C virus (which co-occurs with HIV) is quite high.  In view, of the risk of exposure, all healthcare workers are expected to take universal precautions such as use of gloves to protect themselves irrespective of the nature of delivery.

Are There Foods That that persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) Can And Cannot Eat?

Good nutrition contributes to the well-being of the PLWHA at all stages of the disease and may even prolong life. PLWHA needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle too.

  • Eat a variety of foods
  • Eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables to supply vitamins.
  • Daily protein intake e.g. eggs, meat, fish, beans, groundnuts and soya beans.
  • Use salt sparingly.
  • Drink water to stay hydrated.
  • Do not drink alcohol and avoid cigarette smoking.
  • Food, drinking water and beverages should be hygienically prepared.

Is There A Cure For HIV?

Several claims have been made and major breakthroughs have occurred. However, research is still on- going and no cure is available.

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