Protect Yourself, Know the Symptoms of HIV
How do you feel when someone you know is positive of HIV?
Six years ago, disturbance engulfed my rationality when a friend of mine broke the news that he was diagnosed positive of HIV. Before that revelation, I never saw symptoms of HIV in him. But then, I can still vividly recall that moment. He went to my boarding house for a visit. When I saw him, he looked different. Obviously, he lost some weight and looked unhealthy. We were talking about old memories when suddenly, he bursted into tears. I thought I hurt him in a way, so I asked him if there was any problem with what I said. Then, he showed me a small paper which stated his medical condition. He had Pulmonary Tuberculosis (PTB). Instantly, I was infuriated because he knew he had this contagious disease but he came to me without wearing protective gear. But the air changed when he revealed the worst part, he confessed he was positive of HIV. I was silent, he was crying. Honestly, I didn’t know how to react. I was too shocked to console him.
Prior to that year, another friend of mine disclosed that her boyfriend was also infected. She called me one evening to see her at the park. She was crying on the other line, so I rushed to meet with her. I found her sobbing in a dimly lit part of the public park, so I was really worried during that time. Then, she bravely told me everything—including her fear of being infected herself. At that instance, I saw a defeated young girl whose eyes welling with tears of distress and fear. But when I asked how did it happen, she just shaken her head in complete ignorance.
They never told me how they got infected and I respected their privacy. But with their lifestyles, I considered unprotected intercourse with multiple partners as the prime suspect. When I read author Tommy Ricks’ “Before I Die”, I learned how life circumstances can lead a person to the pit of HIV and other misfortunes. I know there were deeper reasons why they arrived at such a situation. Sometimes, most of the people overlook those causes, because they judge the victims right away. And then, I asked how the victims are coping with despair and finding hope despite the stigma.
What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus causes the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). In the past, people defined HIV by fear, stigma and ignorance. The infected were struggling to face the world and to find hope to live longer. However, it has changed through the years. With the availability of useful information about the epidemic, people have become accustomed to HIV and AIDS. The world has already understood its existence and widespread. Now, we already have awareness and are able to understand this disease through different educational materials and informative sources, including the Internet. And in this time of surging effective remedies or treatments, people with HIV enjoy a longer, healthier and more productive life.
How is HIV transmitted and how many are infected?
There are particular activities associated with the transmission of the virus. The most common is through sexual intercourse and administration of drugs through injection. The spread of this virus (or the HIV transmission) from one person to another is usually through body fluids transmission. Through the following:
The transmission of this virus is made possible through contact of these fluids with the mucous membrane or any damaged tissue. It is also possible through direct injection using needles or syringes. If you don’t know, mucous membranes are commonly found in the female sex organ, the rectum, the opening of the male sex organ, and the mouth.
Nowadays, the number of people with HIV is increasing almost every day. But deaths have declined in some countries and territories. Regardless of gender, race and social status, anyone can be infected. Hence, prevention and healthcare programs should be heightened. Most importantly, you should be responsible in your actions.
What are the symptoms of HIV and how do you know if you are infected?
After two to four weeks of exposure, the person infected may develop common symptoms of HIV. When you suspect yourself of catching the virus, you may experience the following:
- Speedy loss of weight
- Recurring flu-like condition or fever
- Excessive night sweats
- Maximal and indescribable fatigue
- Swelling of lymph glands
- Sores in the mucous membranes
- Pneumonia leading to PTB
How to protect yourself and how can you mitigate the risk of getting infected?
The problem can start from you. While there are several modes of transmission for HIV, the most common are engagement to unprotected sex and sharing of drug paraphernalia, like needles, with someone infected with HIV. If you would want to avoid this virus, learn how to practice abstinence. Abstain from polygamous sexual activities. Be faithful to your partner. If you can’t do that, just always exercise protected sex and make sure that the needles to used for any drug administration are sterile. Most importantly, nourish yourself with the necessary information—be updated of the latest development on how to prevent and treat a person infected. Education is always important to be aware of this disease.
Everybody should know that HIV is not a curse or a death sentence. Get tested and if you have it, be treated. Some of the people who are infected refuse treatment and hide their true condition. It is best suppressed from early detection. Being infected is not totally your fault, so there is nothing to be afraid of. With millions infected all over the world, remind yourself you aren’t alone in this fight. Just be brave to win against it!