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Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) refers to a number of potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses that occur when an individual’s immune system is weakened by the HIV virus. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that weakens one’s immune system. This inhibits the individual from fighting everyday bacteria leaving an individual prone to infection from common everyday bacteria.

Currently there is no cure for HIV, however there are specific drug treatments that help individuals live a near-normal lifespan. AIDS cannot be transmitted to others; however, the HIV virus can be transferred to others. HIV can be transferred to others by the exchange of bodily fluids from individuals who are HIV positive. These fluids include:

  • Breast milk
  • Vaginal secretions
  • Blood
  • Semen

It is also worth mentioning that the HIV virus can’t be transmitted through activities in which the above bodily fluids are not transmittable. Therefore, the HIV virus can’t be contracted through casual contact such as hugging, shaking hands, kissing or sharing of food and water.

Hence, there are specific strategies which one can take on in order to prevent contracting the HIV virus.

  • Using a new condom every time an individual engages in anal or vaginal sex. It is very important to remember to use water-based lubricants as opposed to oil based lubricants if one is using any type of lubricant during sex. Oil-based lubricants can cause the condom to tear as it weakens the material of the condom due its chemical structure.
  • Using PrEP as a preventative strategy against HIV. PrEP refers to Preexposure Prophylaxis which is a combination of two different drugs Truvada and Descovy. This combination is scientifically researched and proven to reduce the risk of contracting the HIV infection in people who are considered to be a high-risk group of contracting the HIV virus. This medication is given to individuals who are HIV negative. This medication needs to be prescribed by a medical practitioner and certain tests need to be taken before this type of medicine can be prescribed.

It is also worth mentioning that if an individual has been diagnosed as being HIV positive, it is very important to notify any sexual partners about this. It is important to notify them in order to aid the prevention of the virus. Therefore, the other partner can take a conscious decision about whether they would like to take the risk or not.

  • If you are in contact with needles regularly either for professional or recreational reasons, it is imperative to use a clean needle every time you need to use one. If you find yourself using recreational intravenous substances it may also be of help to seek support for this from the various drug rehabilitation programmes that exist within your area.

References:

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hiv-aids

Karl Grech is a counsellor. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples within Willingness. He can be contacted on karl@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.