The Healthy Wellbeing Refugee

enjoying life to the full

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Living with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)

You can live a long and positive life with being HIV positive. Around 86,500 people in the UK are living with HIV, and 6,630 new cases were diagnosed in 2009.

 

I can remember being told that HIV test will also be carried out when my blood was taken  during my first pregnancy. I was afraid and could not sleep until I went for the next antenatal clinic. Why was I afraid? Definitely not because I have been promiscuous, but because we have been told it has no cure and also because of the fear of stigmatisation. A positive result of HIV for some have meant giving up on aspirations regarding children, marriage, education, wealth or employment.

 

Within the Black and Minority Ethnic, HIV infection may be seen as a ‘death sentence’, in the light of previous experiences in African countries when treatments were not available as well as to fears that the infection is readily transmissible, but in UK, taking your medication regularly and on time means that HIV-positive people are able to work, study and even have children.

 

Africans often perceive people living with HIV as people who have had immoral sexual behaviour  like prostitution or homosexuality. Therefore people living with HIV have been very secretive about their HIV status, to the extent that they go to collect their medications at odd times e.g. in the evening when most people will be at home and also avoid taking their HIV drugs where others are.

 

A study with black African women found that for many, controlling information about their HIV status represented the single most important challenge in their daily lives. The fear of negative reactions to disclosure of this information and concerns about losing control over how far the news would spread have been widely reported in a number of studies. Moreover, this frequently leads to a weakening of key relationships, depletion of a person’s social life, isolation, and prevents individuals from getting social support. Black African people may already feel excluded from the majority population because of their differing ethnic background, but HIV can also exclude them from their own community.

 

HIV can be transferred through

1.Blood: In the developed world, contamination through blood has been eliminated because of  the screening of blood products for HIV, but this might not be the case for developing world.

2.Semen: Through unsafe sex

3.vaginal fluid: Through unsafe sex

4.pre-ejaculate: is the clear, colorless, viscous fluid that emits from the urethra of a man's penis when he is sexually aroused

5.breast milk.

6.perinatal transmission: transmission from an infected mother to her baby at birth

 

Within these bodily fluids, HIV is present as both free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells, so be careful and practice safe sex.

 

Common symptoms of HIV infection are

1. unintentional weight loss

2. chronic diarrhoea

3. skin rashes, especially on your face, genitals or anus

4. an increase in herpes ulcers or thrush infections in your mouth and genitals

5. sweats, especially at night

6. unusual tiredness

7. nausea or loss of appetite

8. swollen lymph glands in the neck, groin or armpits.

 

If you experience all or some  of theses symptoms persistently, then please go for a test because these symptoms can all be caused by conditions other than HIV.

 

Coping with HIV

Once you have gone for a test and it is positive, it is not the end of the world, especially if you are living in the UK, for your doctor will advice on how you can cope because there is no cure for HIV.

 

You can cope with HIV, by

1.Drugs: there are drugs that can stop HIV reproducing and can drive down the amount of the virus in your body to very low levels. Take your drugs regularly

2.Eating Healthy

3.Joining a social group, where you can give and obtain support

4.Having one sex partner

5.If you are a woman, you will be advised not to breastfeed your child

6.Taking the seasonal flu vaccine, and

7.Being positive, and get something doing like going to school or working.

 

Living with HIV was termed a death sentence before, but not any-more. Be careful not to go into depression and isolation by joining a support group. Also remember to take your medication regularly and on time.

The Healthy Wellbeing

 

Reference

1.NAM Aidsmap, 'HIV & AIDS- sharing knowledge, changing lifes'

http://www.aidsmap.com/resources

Accessed: 29/10/2011

2.NHS Choices, 'Coping with a positive HIV test'

http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/stis/pages/coping-with-positive-hiv-test.aspx

Accessed: 02/11/2011

3.NHS Choices, 'HIV: the facts'

http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/stis/pages/hiv.aspx

Accessed: 02/11/2011

4. Terrence Higgins Trust, 'Living with HIV'

http://www.tht.org.uk/howwecanhelpyou/livingwithhiv/seasonalfluvaccine/

Accessed: 31/10/2011

 

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