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Ask Big Sis: What’s The Tea On HIV and AIDS?

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HIV is scary, Big Sis! I heard that people can die from it. And what makes it different from AIDS? Please explain!

Hey little sis, I think it’s brave that you want to get clued up on such a heavy topic. Let me give you the low down on HIV(Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) and let’s talk about how it is possible to live a long, healthy life after a positive HIV test.

Before we begin, remember, there are also loads of options for protection, so you can prevent infection in the first place.

Are HIV and AIDS The Same Thing?

No, it is not the same thing but great question! HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. When HIV is not properly managed, it can progress to AIDS. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection.

HIV has Three stages: Acute HIV infection (the earliest stage of HIV infection), Clinical latency (no symptoms but a positive test result), and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). With proper treatment, people with HIV can live long, healthy lives that may never even progress to AIDS.

Who Can Get HIV?

Anyone and everyone, chom.

Did you know that HIV used to be called GRID? Gay-Related Immune Deficiency. People thought that only LGBTQIA+ peeps could get it! Sjoe, we have upped knowledge since then. Anyone can contract HIV , no matter their background or who they love.

How Is It Transmitted (passed from one person to another)?

There are a couple of ways you can contract (catch) HIV.

  • Unprotected sex
  • Sharing needles
  • From a mother to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.

How Do I Know I Have It?

Only a blood test at the clinic can confirm if you have contracted HIV, ghel. But, there might be some signs and symptoms that can give you hints you might need to get tested.

Within a few weeks of HIV infection, flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat and fatigue may occur. Remember, HIV mos attacks the immune system. That means it makes your body an easy target for all germs and illnesses - so symptoms could be anything!

However, many people may not have any symptoms for years. That's why if you think you may have been exposed to HIV then it is best to just go get tested. The earlier you detect HIV, the better to treat it, fam.

Treatment Options?

There are treatment options, and also ways that you can prevent getting the virus.

  • Antiretroviral Medications:

These are taken if you already have HIV, and helps one live a healthy life that doesn’t progress to AIDS.

  • PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis):

PrEP is a pill for HIV-negative people who want to prevent getting HIV.

  • Condoms:

Condoms are thin, rubber or latex covers worn on the penis or inserted into the vagina or anus during sex. It is the best defense against unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Ending Stigma

It is important to fight the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV/AIDS. The HIV stigma mostly comes from a place of fear and lack of knowledge. It is crucial to understand that living with HIV or AIDS does not make you dirty, or less valuable.

You cannot get HIV and AIDS by sharing the same home, or eating utensils or clothes as someone who is infected.

This stigma can lead to discrimination, which can have serious consequences for those affected.

But we both know that knowledge is power. By educating ourselves and others, we can help remove the shame around HIV/AIDS and start talking openly and compassionately.

Stay informed, stay safe, and take care!

Chat soon, Big Sis.