HIV, this topic on the whiteboard, it went

HIV, also known as, Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a devastating, heartbreaking virus that negatively affects how the immune system fights off infection, and can actually even lead to AIDS. When hearing the words HIV and AIDS, many questions can appear. Is it even possible for someone to die from HIV and/or AIDS? How do you acquire HIV/AIDS? Is there any possible treatment or procedure that you would need to undergo to get rid of this virus?
So many questions, tied along with so many fears. When first seeing this topic on the whiteboard, it went over my head that HIV is a deadly virus. I knew that it is very serious, but I forgot about the fact that it is deadly. In fact, out of the 70 million people that have been affected by Human Immunodeficiency Virus, 35 million people died. That’s half of the people diagnosed. It’s a staggeringly high number that commonly goes unnoticed. And even more so, some people are completely unaware that they have it due to the flu-like symptoms of HIV. Most people assume that they just have a type of influenza instead of Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
At the end of 2016, approximately 36.7 million people across the world were affected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and of those 36.7 million people, about 2.1 million were children. Furthermore, there are approximately 5,000 new cases of HIV daily.
But before I go into any more statistics, let’s dig down deep and really understand what HIV is. HIV can be spread by blood, sexual fluids, breastfeeding, and the list goes on and on. Like I previously have mentioned, Human Immunodeficiency Virus weakens your body’s ability to fight off pathogens and germs. To continue, this leads to AIDS which stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is essentially the stage where your immune system can’t fight off germs anymore and you continuously keep getting sick. AIDS is also the stage that individuals have a very low risk of surviving and enduring the virus.
HIV can be spread in many different and unexpected ways. It can be spread if you go to the doctor and use an unclean needle that was previously used by someone containing the virus. It is commonly spread through unprotected sexual activity and breastfeeding, since they both are direct contact. However, many cases have previously shown up from unclean, shared needles used for drugs that are injected into others. The difference is that HIV isn’t spread through ALL bodily fluids. For instance, HIV cannot be shared through the contact of sweat, tears, saliva, or urine. Another misconception is that you can get HIV from sitting on the same toilet seat as someone who has HIV, which is not true. HIV doesn’t live on certain objects such as a toilet seat. Also, individuals containing HIV are not permissible to donate blood for any cause, due to the virus that lives inside of them.
But a question that lingers is how did HIV even start? When and where was the first case? Although no one knows the very first case of HIV, the main breakout started in 1980. Many similar cases came to medical regions with the same complaints and then, finally was established at Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Many cases were diagnosed after the establishment of the virus. The virus even dated back to symptoms experienced by patients over ten years ago! HIV is believed to have originated in Kinshasa, which is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Supposedly, the virus started when chimpanzees passed it along to humans through bodily fluid contact. The virus had quite the outbreak, and over a short period of time, the virus was already diagnosed in five continents – North America, Europe, South America, Africa, and Australia. During the beginning of this outbreak, approximately 300,000 people were infected and doctors had not even the slightest bit of idea on how to cure this wide-spread virus.
Thankfully though, there is a treatment now for HIV. Although the treatment doesn’t fully eliminate the virus in your body, it slowly takes care of it and makes it less severe. This treatment is known as ART which stands for Antiretroviral Therapy. This therapy consists of drugs that slow down the virus and that help the beginning process of fighting off other germs and bacteria. ART has been prescribed to those who have HIV ever since the mid 1990’s, and since then, the annual death toll caused by HIV has dropped very evidently.
People question if the treatment is even useful to take, since it doesn’t take care of the virus completely, and in my eyes I believe that it is very useful. Although it doesn’t diminish the virus completely and quickly, the treatment has very many useful benefits. Studies have shown that individuals that are affected by the HIV virus that don’t seek treatment are at very high risk of developing AIDS, as opposed to those who are affected by HIV and do seek treatment. Also, if you were to have HIV and decide to go untreated, there are many other viruses that can team up with HIV affecting your immune system even more and even affecting the number of cells in your body. Lastly, without treatment, you are prone to getting an opportunistic infection, which is a type of infection that typically doesn’t affect people who have good immune systems. However, since HIV ruins the majority of your immune system, you are very prone to getting this infection. An opportunistic infection weakens the immune system even more than HIV already has weakened it.
However, although ART is more beneficial than harmful, it still has its negative side effects. When individuals seek this treatment, it is very common that they experience even more symptoms tied into illness. These symptoms include vomiting, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, headaches, and much more. Also, if you were to miss a day of treatment of ART, it is a great risk to your future health and the recovery process of your HIV virus. Missing your ART treatment for even just one day can be detrimental in the fact that it can limit any future treatment plans. But like I have previously mentioned, there is more benefit of ART than harm, because it slowly treats and slows down the traveling virus.
When I was first assigned this topic of Human Immunodeficiency Virus, I wasn’t quite sure how serious it truly was. This virus is commonly forgotten and not taken seriously enough. Out of over seven billion people in the world, almost 36.7 million people have contained this deadly virus, and have come to the realization that there is no way to properly, efficiently, and completely take care of it. They have the thought in the back of their heads of passing this deadly virus to the ones they love the most. Human Immunodeficiency Virus is devastating. It affects not only the individual that contains it, but also the friends and family of that certain individual, and I truly believe that HIV deserves more awareness.

HIV, will have more difficulty fighting off simple

HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, attacks and destroys white blood cells in the immune system, whose job is to help our body fight against illness and disease. While it destroys the cells, it also makes copies of itself inside those cells and therefore gradually weakens a person’s immune system. When someone contracts HIV and doesn’t take medication for it, over time their bodies will have more difficulty fighting off simple infections and illnesses. Yet, it takes about 15 years for the immune system to be so severely damaged that the disease will progress to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and the body is not able to fight off any infections or illnesses anymore. It is the latest stage of the disease and if left untreated will lead to death.

It can be transmitted through blood, semen vaginal and anal fluids and breastmilk but it cannot be transmitted through sweat, saliva or urine. The safest way to protect from HIV is to have protected sex with condoms. To this day, there is no cure for HIV or AIDS but there is ART, short for antiretroviral therapy, which significantly slows down the infection rate of the virus and can dramatically increase a person’s life span and lower their chance of infecting others. (https://www.avert.org/about-hiv-aids/what-hiv-aids, n.

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d.)”In 2017 an estimated 36.9 million people in were living with HIV” (https://www.avert.org/global-hiv-and-aids-statistics, n.d.

) around the whole world and around 25% of those people are not aware of their situation. Southern and East Africa are hit hardest with the infections of HIV with about 19.6 million infected people, which is more than half of the global infections. There are about 800,000 new infections per year and about 380,000 AIDS related deaths. Therefore, AIDS remains high on the list of all reported causes of death in Southern and East Africa.

(https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/overview, n.

d.)In Malawi, a low-income country in Southern Africa, about 12% of the population lives with HIV which is about one million people. And more than one million children are orphaned due to AIDS, which leaves the children vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Malawi is one of the countries that has the highest infection rate in the world, with about 50% of new infections affecting those between 15 and 17 years old. AIDS is the number one leading cause of death in Malawi, with about 27.

1% of all reported deaths due to the virus. Moreover, “the Malawian HIV epidemic plays a critical role in the country’s low life expectancy of just 57 years for men and 60 for women”.(https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/malawi, n.d.) And even though, there has been a great effort in improving peoples life’s by making condoms and antiretroviral therapy easier accessible, the numbers have not decreased as much as the government of Malawi wishes.

The affected groups in Malawi are mostly generalized, the same as around the globe. Heterosexual couples who have unprotected sex, adolescent girls, young women and homosexual men. Children are also affected but not as highly as the other affected groups. They easily get infected when their mother gives birth or from breastfeeding. Women are more susceptible to the disease than men, with the HIV prevalence among women being three times higher than among men. This could be due to that men who are circumcised have a lower infection rate than women. (https://www.reuters.

com/article/us-aids-circumcision-idUSTRE56F7BG20090716, n.d.) or that women are more likely to be subject to sexual violence, with about 22% of women in Malawi reporting that they have “experienced sexual violence before the age of 18”. (https://www.

avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/malawi, n.d.) Furthermore, young women are often married before the age of 18 with usually much older men, who often already had several sex partners, which highly increases their chance of having unknowingly contracted HIV.

However, Malawi tried to deal with this issue by raising the legal minimum age of marriage from 15 to 18 in 2017. Homosexual men are one of the key affected populations in Malawi to contract the virus. “Neary one in five men who have sex with men are living with HIV” (https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/malawi, n.

d.). The prevalence of HIV tends to be higher in older men, but 12% of young men who have sex with men, are already living with the virus.

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