Discovering that you or a loved one has tested positive with HIV is scary. There is so much misleading information out there that getting the truth can be difficult. The information we provide is the truth. If you have any doubts or questions regarding this disease, come and chat to one of our Peermed professionals. We treat ALL information in the strictest confidence.
FACTS AND MYTHS SURROUNDING AIDS AND HIV
Aids is a scary topic. For many, it is so worrying that they find it easier to remain untested.
It does not have to be a guaranteed death sentence. At Peermed, we have many HIV positive patients who are living healthy and productive lives. We assist our patients with the correct dietary information and, where necessary, provide the required medication.
If you have any concerns about your status, come into Peermed for a simple test.
What is HIV?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system which protects the body against infections.
What is Aids?
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids) develops in the final stages of HIV. This is the stage where it becomes very difficult for the body to fight off infections.
How do you catch the virus?
Most people get the HIV virus by:
- Having unprotected sex with an infected person
- Sharing a needle with someone who is HIV-positive
- Being born to an infected mother or drinking the breast milk of an infected woman
What are CD4 cells?
These cells are called “T-helper” cells, and are an important part of your immune system. Healthy people have between 500 and 1500 CD4 cells to a ml of blood.
Once the patient’s CD4 count drops below 200 HIV becomes Aids.
All about ARVs
Antiretroviral drug treatment (ARVs) is the main type of treatment for Aids and HIV. These drugs DO NO CURE, but they can keep people healthier for many years.
At which stage of the illness does treatment start?
This is decided in consultation with the patient’s doctor – a CD4 test is an important part of the decision.
What about side effects?
Most antiretroviral drugs have side effects; for some they are mild, and for others they are more severe. It is vital that patients do not stop their treatment – every missed dose increases the chance that the drugs will stop working…
Can HIV be transmitted to a baby?
If a pregnant woman has HIV, she can pass the virus to her baby during the pregnancy, the delivery or by breastfeeding.
However, modern drugs are extremely effective at preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Speak to your Peermed doctor who will advise you on which ARVs are best suited to your circumstances.
Breast is not always best
HIV is found in breast milk and it is therefore recommended that HIV-positive mothers use milk formula. The staff at Peermed can advise you on which formula to use and how to safely prepare your baby’s bottles!
At a glance: important pointers in the prevention and management of HIV
Always use a condom.
Have your partner and you tested, especially at the beginning of a new relationship.
If you do test positive for HIV work closely with your Peermed GP to maintain good health.
NEVER miss a dose of ARVs – the medication may then stop working.
- There is NO cure
- You cannot catch Aids from mosquitoes.
- HIV-positive people cannot be detected by their appearance.
- Aids is not restricted to gay men.
Did you know?
More than 5.5 million people are living with HIV and Aids in South Africa