What are HIV and AIDS ?

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is the late stage of infection with human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV). AIDS can take more than 8-10 years to develop after infection with HIV. HIV-infected people can live symptom-free lives for years; however most people in developing countries die within three years of being diagnosed with AIDS .

How do people get infected with HIV ?

HIV is transmitted mostly through semen and vaginal fluids during unprotected sex without the use of condoms. Globally, most cases of sexual transmission involve men and women, although, in some developed countries homosexual activity remains the primary mode. Besides sexual intercourse. HIV can also be transmitted during drug injection by the sharing of needles contaminated with infected blood; by the transfusion, of infected blood or blood products; and from an infected woman to her baby- before birth, during birth or just after delivery. HIV is not spread through ordinary social contact; for example by shaking hand, travelling in the same bus, eating from the same utensils, by hugging or kissing. Mosquitoes and insects do not spread the virus nor is it water-borne or air-borne.

Does AIDS also affect our State ?

In M.P. first AIDS case was reported in 1988. At present there are more than 750 reported full blown AIDS cases in the State of Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh and at present the number of AIDS cases is increasing at an alarming rate which is evident from the figures of various sources.

Why is the AIDS epidemic considered so serious ?

AIDS affects people primarily when they are most productive and leads to premature death thereby severely affecting the socio-economic structure of whole families, communities and countries. Besides, AIDS is not curable and since HIV is transmitted predominantly through sexual contact, and with sexual practices being essentially a private domain, these issues are difficult to address.

How can I avoid being infected through sex ?

Yes. Every STD causes some damage to the genital skin and mucous membrane, which facilitates the entry of HIV into the body. The most dangerous are : Syphilis, Chancroid, Genital herpes and Gonorrhoea.

Why is early treatment of STD important ?

High rates of STD caused by unprotected sexual activity enhance the transmission risk in the general population. Early treatment of STD reduces the risk of spread to other sexual partners and also reduces the risk of contracting HIV from infected partners. Besides, early treatment of STD also prevents infertility and ectopic pregnancies.

How can children and young people be protected from HIV ?

Children and adolescents have the right to know how to avoid HIV infection before they become sexually active. Parents and schools share the responsibility of ensuring that children understand how to avoid HIV infection, and learn the importance of tolerant, compassionate and non-discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV/AIDS.

How does a mother transmit HIV to her unborn child ?

An HIV-infected mother can infect the child in her womb through her blood. The baby is more at risk if the mother has been recently infected or is in a later stage of AIDS. Transmission can also occur at the time of birth when the baby is exposed to the mother's blood and to some extent transmission can occur through breast milk. Transmission from an infected mother to her baby occurs in about 30% of cases.

Can HIV be transmitted through breast-feeding ?

The virus has been found in breast milk in low concentrations and studies have shown that children of HIV-infected mothers can get HIV infection through breast milk. Breast milk, however, has many substances in it that protect an infant's health and the benefits of breast-feeding for both mother and child are well recognized. The slight risk of an infant becoming infected with HIV through breast-feeding is therefore thought to be outweighed by the benefits of breast-feeding.

Can blood transfusions transmit HIV infection ?

Yes. If the blood contains HIV. In many places blood is now screened for HIV before it is transfused. If you need a transfusion, try to ensure that screened blood is used.

Can injections transmit HIV infection ?

Yes. If the injecting equipment is contaminated with blood containing HIV. Avoid injections unless absolutely necessary. If you must have an injection, make sure the needle and syringe come straight from a sterile package or have been sterilized properly; a needle and syringe that has been cleaned and then boiled for 20 minutes is ready for reuse. Finally, if you inject drugs, never use anyone else's injecting equipment.

How serious is the interaction between HIV and TB in South-East Asia ?

Tuberculosis kills nearly 3 million people globally, of whom, nearly 50% are Asians. The rapid spread of HIV in the region has further complicated the already serious situation. Not only is TB the commonest life-threatening opportunistic infection among patients living with AIDS, but the incidence of TB has now begin to increase, particularly in areas where HIV seroprevalence is high. Multi-drug resistant TB is also quite common in many areas.

What efforts are being made to integrate HIV/AIDS/STD prevention and control activities into primary health care ?

Integration into primary health care is a priority because it is necessary for ensuring sustainability. Two examples of an integrated approach are the implementation of HIV/AIDS care and STD prevention and control. For example, a continuum of HIV/AIDS care is being promoted as part of primary health care, with linkages to be established between institutional, community and home levels. In the area of STD prevention, and control, a syndromic approach to STD diagnosis is most suitable in the developing world as it does not require laboratory tests, and treatment can be given at the first contact with health services. WHO strongly advocates that all primary health care workers be trained in the syndromic approach to STD management.

It there a vaccine for HIV/AIDS ?

While there is currently no vaccine for HIV/AIDS, research is under way, many candidate vaccines are presently undergoing either phase I or phase II clinical trials in various countries, including Thailand in South-East Asia. These will be followed by field trials in the community to determine efficacy, which is a time consuming process and will take another 3-5 years or more. Hence, a vaccine for general use is unlikely to be available in the near future.

It there a treatment for HIV/AIDS ?

All currently licensed anti-retroviral drugs, namely AZT , ddl and ddC, have effects which last only for a limited duration. In addition, these drugs are very expensive and have severe adverse reactions while the virus tends to develop resistance rather quickly with single-drug therapy. The emphasis is now on giving a combination of drugs including newer drugs called protease inhibitors, but this makes treatment even more expensive. WHO's present policy does not recommend antiviral drugs but instead advocates strengthening of clinical management for HIV- associated opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis and diarrhoea. Better care programmes have been shown to prolong survival and improve the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS.

How should governments share responsibility ?

Governments are responsible for ensuring that enough resources are allocated to AIDS prevention and care programmes, that all individuals and groups in society have access to these programmes, and that laws, policies and practices do not discriminate against people living with HIV/AIDS. Governments of developed countries have a moral responsibility to share the AIDS burden of developing countries.

Do people living with HIV/AIDS have special rights or responsibilities ?

Since everyone is entitled to fundamental human rights without discriminations, people living with HIV/AIDS have the same rights as seronegative people to education, employment, health, travel, marriage, procreation, privacy, social security, scientific benefits, asylum, etc. Seronegative and seropositive people share responsibility for avoiding HIV infection/re-infection. But many people, including women, children and teenagers, cannot negotiate safe sex because of their law status in society or, lack of personal power. Therefore, men whether knowingly infected or unaware of their HIV status, have a special responsibility of not putting others at risk.

Where did AIDS come from ?

AIDS is caused by a virus called HIV, but where this virus came from is not known. However, as new facts are discovered about viruses like HIV, the question of where HIV first came from is becoming more complicated to answer. Moreover, such questions are no longer relevant and do not help in our efforts to combat this epidemic. What is more important is the fact that HIV is present in many countries and we need to determine how best to prevent the further spread of this deadly virus.

Where was AIDS first found ?

AIDS was first recognised in the United States in 1981. However, it is clear that AIDS cases had occured in several parts of the world before 1981. Evidence now suggests that the AIDS epidemic began at roughly the same time in several parts of the world, including the U.S.A. and Africa.

Are women at equal risk of getting infected with HIV ?

Women are in fact more at risk of getting infected because of their increased vulnerability. In addition, their low status within the family and society further heighten their vulnerability to infection. It is therefore most important that every woman has access to information about HIV/AIDS to protect herself.

Does AIDS affect children ?

Yes Children can be both infected and affected by AIDS. Over 2.5 million children worldwide are now infected with HIV. If HIV continues to spread in countries, there will be a great increase in deaths among infants and children. It is also estimated that by the year 2000, 10 million children will have been orphaned as their parents die of AIDS.

Who should provide care to HIV/AIDS affected persons ?

Everyone in contact with an HIV/AIDS person is a potential care provider. In particular, this includes health care workers at various levels of the health care delivery system, social workers and counsellors, and close family members who are important care providers at home. Care basically involves clinical management, nursing care, counselling and social support.

What role do NOGs play in AIDS control ?

NGOs have an important and very special role to play. The close interpersonal interaction that NGOs have with people in the communities they work in is extremely usefid for implementing the behavioural interventions necessary for HIV/AIDS prevention and care. NGOs are also not under the same political constraints as government programmes are. They therefore have greater flexibility and the capacity to accommodate changing programmes and public heeds and can innovate and implement new initiatives more easily.

Is it safe to work with someone infected with HIV ?

Yes, Most workers face no risk of getting the virus while doing their work. If they have the virus themselves, they are not a risk to others during the course of their work.

Why are people safe from HIV infection during work ?

As explained already, in adults, the virus is mainly transmitted through the transfer of blood or sexual fluids. Since contact with blood or sexual fluids is not part of most people's work, most workers are safe.

What about working every day in close physical contact with an infected person ?

There are no risks involved. You may share the same telephone with other people in your office or work side by side in a crowded factory with other HIV infected persons, even share the same cup of tea, but this will not expose you to the risk of contracting the infection. Being in contact with dirt and sweat will also not give you the infection.

Who is at risk while at work?

those who are likely to come into contact with blood that contains the virus are at risk. These include health care workers - doctors, dentists, nurses, laboratory technicians and a few others. Such workers must take special care against possible contact with infected blood, as for example by using gloves.

If a worker has HIV infection, should he or she be allowed to continue work ?

Workers with HIV infection who are still healthy should be treated in the same way as any other worker. Those with AIDS or AIDS- related illnesses should be treated in the same way as any other worker who is ill. Infection with HIV is not a reason in itself for termination of employment.

Does a employee infected with the virus have to tell the employer about it ?

Anyone infected, or thought to be infected, must be protected from discrimination by employers, co-workers, unions or clients. Employees should not be required to inform their employer about their infection. If good information and education about AIDS are available to employees, a climate of understanding may develop in the workplace protecting the rights of the HIV-infected person.

Should an employer test a worker for HIV ?

Testing for HIV should not be required of workers. Imagine that you are a worker with HIV infection and are healthy and able to work. As far as your work is concerned, the information about the infection is private. If AIDS-related illness makes you unfit for a particular job, you should be treated in the same way as any other employee with a chronic illness. A suitable alternative job can often be arranged by the employer. The Employers in different parts of the world are beginning to deal with these problems more humanely. Their associations and workers unions can be consulted for advice.

Should a traveller or tourist be concerned about AIDS ?

Travellers should know about HIV and AIDS because AIDS is a reality throughout the world today. Concern about AIDS, however, should not be an obstacle to travel. Avoiding HIV infection depends mainly on each individual. You can easily protect yourself against HIV infection during your travels by knowing and following some simple rules-the same rules which protect you in your home surroundings.

How can a traveller get infected with HIV ?

In the same way he or she may get infected back home. The virus spreads most frequently through sexual activity, from an infected person to his or her sexual partner. It also spreads through contaminated blood transfusions, Infected needles, or on any other infected skin-piercing instruments.

What if you are already infected with HIV? Can you still travel ?

If you are already infected, consult your health care provider for guidance well before you plan to travel. some immigration officials insist on an HIV free certificate. Your travel counsellor will advise you.

Is AIDS mainly a problem of developing countries ?

Many people would like to claim that AIDS only affects others- people of other countries. AIDS break the patterns that we associate with major diseases, for example, linking malaria with the tropics or perhaps heart disease with the industrialized world. AIDS affects both developing and industrialized countries, both cold and hot countries. HIV can spread anywhere where people live and have sex.

If a person becomes infected with HIV, does that mean he has AIDS ?

No. HIV is an unusual virus because a person can be infected with it for many years and yet appear to be perfectly healthy. But the virus gradually multiplies inside the body and eventually destroys the body's ability of fight off illnesses. It is still not certain that everyone with HIV infection will get AIDS. It seems likely that most people with HIV will develop serious problems with their health. But this many be after many years. A person with HIV may not know they are infected but can pass the virus on to other people.

Why Do I Need to Know About HIV infection and AIDS ?

Unlike many diseases, HIV infection and AIDS are preventable. While it can be disturbing to think about AIDS and consider your risk, getting up-to-date information is the first step toward protecting yourself. An estimated 800,000 to 1.2 million people in the United States are infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This virus damages cells in the immune (defense) system that fight off infections and diseases. As the virus gradually destroys these important cells, the immune system becomes less and less able to protect against illness . Typically, HIV lives in an infected person's body for months or years before any signs of illness appear. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is the last stage of HIV infection. People with AIDS experience certain life-threatening infections and cancers which make them very sick and can eventually kill them.

How is HIV Treated ?

Currently there is no way to get rid of all the virus once a person is infected. However, new medicines can slow the damage that HIV causes to the immune system. Also, doctors are getting better at treating the illnesses that are caused by HIV infection. Many people now consider HIV infection a manageable long-term illness.

How Do People Become Infected ?

This virus is spread through the blood, semen, and vaginal discharges of an HIV-infected person. People can get HIV infection when they have contact with these fluids. This can happen by engaging in specific sexual and/or drug use practices. Also, HIV-infected women can pass the virus to their newborns during pregnancy and childbirth. Lastly. some people who received blood products before March 1985 got infected blood. Now all donated blood is being screened for HIV. Many people do not know they have this virus and therefore can unknowingly pass it to others. This is because they usually look and feel fine for many years after HIV infection occurs. Sex and HIV Both men and women, including teenagers, can pass HIV to a sex partner, whether he or she is the same sex or the apposite sex. This can occur during unprotected anal, vaginal and oral (mouth) sex through contact with infected semen blood, or vaginal secretions. Drugs, Sex and HIV People can get infected with HIV through sharing needles, cookers, or cottons (work) with someone who is infected. This can happen even when the person passing the works looks clean and healthy. Some people stopped shooting and/or sharing works many years ago and do not realize that they many have become infected with HIV back when they were still shooting drugs. They also many not realize they can pass it through unprotected sex now. Pregnancy and HIV Treatment during pregnancy can help an HIV-infected woman protect her baby from becoming infected. Without treatment, more than a third of all babies born to HIV-infected women will have the virus and eventually get sick.

What About Getting AIDS From Body Fluids Like Saliva?

Although small amounts of HIV have been found in body fluids like saliva, feces, urine, and tears, there is no evidence that HIV can spread through these body fluids. By now, HIV has been the subject of more research than most other diseases in history. medical science is confident about these basic fact:; You can't get HIV or AIDS from touching someone, sharing items such as cups or pencils, or coughing or sneezing. HIV is not spread through routine contact in restaurants, workplaces, or schools. There has never been any danger of becoming infected with HIV from donating blood. The needless at blood collection sites in the United States are never used twice.

Could I Be at Risk ?

Unless they know someone who has it, many people think this disease can't happen to them. Unfortunately, it can and does happen to all kinds of people. By looking at your current and past sexual and drug practices (and your transfusion history), you can get a picture of your risk for HIV. Also you can figure out how you can reduce your future risk for HIV infection.

What Can I Do To Avoid Getting HIV Infection ?

Six Ways to Reduce Risk : 1. Abstain from vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Many other things feel good and are safe, because no blood, semen, or vaginal secretions get into the body. Safe activities include hugging, cuddling masturbating, kissing, fantasizing, body-to body rubbing, and massage. 2. Use condoms. Unless you're 100% your sexual partner is not infected with HIV or other STDs, reduce your risk by suing a latex condom (rubber) on the penis from start to finish every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex. The female condom can also help protect you. Learn to talk with your partner about condoms and safer sex. Condoms can protect both of you from many STDs. 3. If you use lubricant, use one that is water-based Lubricants containing oil (such as Vaseline) might cause latex condoms to break. 4. If you use spermicidal (birth control) foams and jellies, use them along with condoms, not in place of condoms. The effectiveness of spermicides in preventing HIV is unknowns. 5. If you shoot drugs, seek help. And never share needless. 6. Avoid mixing alcohol or other drugs with sexual activities -they might cloud your judgement and lead you to engage in unsafe sexual practices.

It There a Relationship Between HIV and Other STDs ?

The presence of certain STDs increases the risk of getting HIV infection during contact with an HIV-infected person. Certain STDs result in breaks in the skin on or in the anus. vagina, or penis that permit the virus to enter the blood system more easily. See a health care provider for testing and treatment if you think you might have any STD.

How Can I Tell if I have HIV Infection ?

The only way to know for sure if you have this virus is by taking a blood test called the "HIV Antibody Test." Some people call it the "HIV Test" or the "AIDS Test," even though this test alone cannot tell you if you have AIDS. The HIV test can tell you if you have the virus and can pass it to others in the ways already described. The test is not a part of your regular blood tests-you have to ask for it by name. It is a very accurate test. If your test result is "positive" it means you have HIV infection and could benefit special medical care. Additional tests can tell you how strong your immune system is and whether drug therapy is indicated. Some people stay healthy for a long time with HIV infection, while others develop serious illness and AIDS more rapidly. Scientists do not know why people respond in different ways to HIV infection. IF your test is "negative," and you have not had any possible risk for HIV for six months prior to taking the test, it means you do not have HIV infection. You can stay free of HIV by following prevention guidelines. (In the past five years, one study indicated that a few people with HIV infection took longer than six months to test "positive." This is an extremely rare possible.) Less than 2% of all people who test of HIV get an "inconclusive result." This means this test cannot determine whether or not they have the virus. Repeat testing is recommended.

Should I Take the HIV Test ?

Recent gains in HIV medical care and treatment have increased the benefit of learning whether you have HIV infection even before symptoms of illness appear. Also, if you are planning a pregnancy, you and your partner may want to know if either of you are infected before conceiving. Before you are tested be sure that counseling is provided, both before and after the test. Consult with a health care provider with experience in HIV care or call your local health department. Many test sites provide free testing and counseling. Ask for more health literature on HIV testing.

If I am a HIV Positive, What Should I Do ?

If you've tested positive for HIV, consider the following: See a health care professional for a complete medical work-up for HIV infection and advice on treatment and health maintenance, make sure you are tested for TB and other STDs. For women, this includes a regular gynaecological exam, Inform your sexual partner(s) about their possible risk for HIV, your local health department has a partner notification program that can assist you, protect others from the virus by following the precautions (for example, always using condoms and not sharing needs with others), protect yourself from any additional exposure to HIV, avoid drug and alcohol use, practice good nutrition, and avoid fatigue and stress, seek support from trustworthy friends and family when possible, and consider getting professional counseling, and find a support group of people who are going through similar experiences.

What If a Friend or Associate Has HIV Infection or AIDS ?

A friend or acquaintance will need your support and understanding, just as with any other life-threatening illness. Assurance of your continued friendship is very important. Most importantly, your friend will want to be treated as usual-as a valuable human being. And remember casual contact-a hug, a handshake, a kiss on the cheek-poses no threat of infection to you.

Why do people who are infected with HIV eventually die ?

When people are infected with HIV, they do not die of HIV or AIDS. These people die due to the effects that the HIV has on the body. With the immune system down, the body becomes susceptible to many infections, from the common cold to cancer. It is actually those particular infections, and the body's inability to fight the infections that cause these people to become so sick, that they eventually die.