• HIV Transmission

It refers to the manner in which the HIV virus is passed from one person to the other and occurs through infected blood transfusion, bodily fluids i.e. sperm (semen), vaginal fluids and breast milk.

­-The most common mode of transmission is through unprotected heterosexual intercourse (sex between man and woman) and oftentimes one person is infected and transmits onto another.

  • Treatment

Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) is the current panacea to HIV. It involves taking a combination of medicines called an HIV treatment regimen every day. ART takes effect through preventing the HIV virus from multiplying i.e. making copies of itself which reduces the amount of HIV in the body termed viral load.

HIV cannot be cured, it may only be managed as there is no permanent panacea and the choice of the regimen depends on an individual needs.

Having less HIV in the body gives the compromised immune system a chance to recover as the main goal of the treatment is to reduce a persons’ viral load to an undetectable level.

ART is initiated for all adults with HIV as it reduces mortality and HIV Transmission outcomes.

It is recommended that ART should be administered as early as possible within the first two weeks after diagnosis of an HIV infection.

Individuals who are pregnant should initiate ART as soon as possible for their own health and to thwart transmission to the infant.

Consistent use of medication and adherence to it reduces the risk of drug resistance.

  • Fight Stigma

-HIV related stigma and discrimination refers to prejudice, negative attitudes and abuse directed to people living with HIV and AIDS. It is also a process of devaluation of people either living with or associated with HIV.

-Discrimination follows closely to stigma and it is the unfair and unjust treatment of an individual based on his or her real or perceived HIV status.

-Stigma manifests itself in the form of being shunned by family, peers, community, classmates and psychological damages as HIV in Africa is closely linked to infidelity and sex work.

-An effective response to HIV stigma tackle the root causes of stigma and ensure services are inclusive and accessible.

-Stigma can be fought with empowerment of those with HIV to understand their rights and act on violations of their personal dignity.

-To end stigma of HIV, it is necessary to educate people while addressing their fears in an effort to change their attitudes to create awareness on what stigma and discrimination are, the harm they cause and attendant benefits of reducing stigmatisation.

-Addressing fears and misconceptions about HIV transmission by providing detailed information about how HIV is and is not transmitted as this will foster behavioural change amongst people.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) usually pass from one person to another through sexual contact. Most are fairly common, and effective treatment is available — especially in the early stages.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Without diagnosis and treatment, some STIs, such as HIV or syphilis, can be fatal. STIs can also cause pregnancy-related complications, including stillbirth, congenital infections, sepsis and neonatal death. STIs like human papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and cervical cancer, a major killer of women.

HIV

HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. It can spread through sexual contact and some other means.

HIV makes a person more prone to certain other infections. People with HIV also have a higher risk .Trusted Source of contracting other STIs. Without treatment, this susceptibility to infection worsens and may lead to life threatening complications.

Once a person has HIV, the virus will be present in their bodily fluids, including semen, blood, breast milk, and vaginal and rectal fluids. If these fluids enter another person’s body, that person can also contract HIV. This can happen through sexual contact, sharing needles, contact with broken skin, giving birth, and breastfeeding.

Treatment can reduce the amount of the virus present in the body to an undetectable level. This means that the amount of the virus within the blood is so small that blood tests cannot detect it. It also means that it cannot spread to other people.A person with undetectable HIV must continue to follow their treatment plan exactly as the doctor prescribes to keep virus levels low.

Some other ways to prevent transmission include:

  • using a condom or other barrier method of contraception during vaginal or anal sex
  • taking Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) ., which is a drug that can help prevent HIV in people with exposure to the virus
  • not sharing needles
  • using gloves and disposing of sharps carefully, such as when working in a healthcare setting

Disclosure of HIV

Stigma and discrimination (HIV)

Support systems

Human papillomavirus

Human papillomavirus (HPV) refers to a group of viruses that affect the skin and mucous membranes, such as the throat, cervix, anus, and mouth. There are various types, and some pose a higher risk than others.

HPV is common, nearly everyone who is sexually active will have HPV at some point in their lives, unless they have received a vaccination to prevent it. Many people experience no symptoms, but in these cases, it is still possible for the virus to spread. Some types of HPV can lead to genital warts. These tend to be low risk. Having HPV can also increase the risk of cervical cancer and throat cancer.

HPV can spread through:

  • vaginal and anal sex
  • oral sex
  • genital-to-genital contact
  • from a pregnant person to a baby, though this is rare

Vaccination can help prevent the transmission of HPV.

Syphilis

Syphilis stems from an infection with the bacterium Treponema pallidum. It is a potentially serious infection, and early treatment is necessary to prevent permanent damage and long-term complications.

There are usually four stages. In the first stage, a person may notice a round, firm sore at the site of the infection, usually around the genitals, anus, rectum, or mouth. The sore may not be visible, since it is often painless and may be hidden, for example, in the vagina. The bacterium can spread at any point during the infection. Syphilis can also pass to a baby during pregnancy.

At the secondary stage, there may be:

  • a non-itchy rash of rough, brownish or red spots on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
  • lesions in the mucous membranes, such as the mouth, vagina, or anus
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • hair loss
  • headaches
  • weight loss
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • fever

In the latent stage, the symptoms disappear, but the bacteria remain in the body and can continue to cause damage.

In the tertiary stage, life threatening complications can affect the brain, nervous system, eyes, heart, and several other organs. Symptoms at this stage will depend on which part of the body the syphilis affects.

The only way to confirm whether or not syphilis is present is by conducting a test. If the result is positive, the person should inform their sexual partner or partners, and they, too, should seek medical advice.

Symptoms will appear around 21 days after the transmission of the bacteria, on average, but they can take between 10 and 90 days to appear.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a common infection that develops due to the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is highly contagious and, without treatment, can lead to life threatening complications.

Gonorrhea can spread  during oral, vaginal, or anal sex. If a person touches an infected area of the body and then touches their eye, gonorrhea can also lead to pink eye.

This infection can also spread to a baby during childbirth.

N. gonorrhoeae thrive in warm, moist parts of the body, such as the vagina, penis, mouth, rectum, and eye. This infection can spread during sexual contact.

There are often no symptoms, but if they do occur, they may include:

  • pain during urination
  • discharge
  • swelling of the genitals
  • bleeding between periods

If it affects the rectum, it can lead to:

  • anal itching
  • pain during bowel movements
  • discharge

An infection that occurs as a result of oral sex can lead to burning pain in the throat and swollen lymph nodes.

In females, the infection can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease. Males, meanwhile, may experience inflammation of the epididymis, which is the tube that stores sperm. Both conditions can affect fertility.

As soon as a person has gonorrhea, the bacteria can spread to other people and to other parts of the body through physical contact. Receiving treatment with antibiotics can usually resolve the infection.

Symptoms can appear 1–14 days after infection. Males usually notice symptoms 2–5 days after exposure. Females often do not experience any symptoms at all, but if they do, the symptoms will usually appear up to 10 days after exposure.

Chancroid

Chancroid is a rare bacterial infection that develops due to Haemophilus ducreyi. It can only spread through sexual contact.It causes painful sores on the genitals. Chancroid can also increase the chance of HIV, and it can make HIV harder to treat.Treatment is with antibiotics. Anyone who receives a diagnosis of chancroid should inform any partners they have had sexual contact with within the past 10 days

When to see a doctor

Many STIs will not cause symptoms, so a person should not wait until symptoms appear before seeing a doctor. Instead, people should seek medical advice if they think that they have had exposure to an STI.

Treatments and tips

A doctor can test for STIs to confirm whether or not an infection is present. They will then prescribe the most appropriate treatment option.

The sections below will look at some treatments and tips for coping with an STI.

Dealing with stigma

Many people find it hard to talk about STIs due to concerns about stigma. However, STIs are a common health concern, and treatments are available that can either cure the infection or help a person manage it. Seeking early treatment will also reduce the risk of complications.

Prevention

Using a condom, dental dam, or other barrier method of contraception can help prevent the spread of many STIs, though this will not prevent the transmission of infections that spread as a result of skin-to-skin contact.

Some other ways to reduce the risk of transmitting or contracting an STI include:

  • talking to any new partners about protected sex and any past infections
  • ensuring that both partners undergo testing before starting a new sexual relationship
  • receiving vaccinations to protect against some infections
  • taking care when using alcohol or recreational drugs, as these can increase the chance of risky sexual behaviours

For more information go to:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326601967_Antiretroviral_Drugs_for_Treatment_and_Prevention_of_HIV_Infection_in_Adults_2018_Recommendations_of_the_International_Antiviral_Society-USA_Panel

https://hivinfo.nih.gov/understanding-hiv/fact-sheets/hiv-treatment-basics#:~:text=treatment%20for%20HIV%3F-,The%20treatment%20for%20HIV%20is%20called%20antiretroviral%20therapy%20(ART).,HIV%20live%20longer%2C%20healthier%20lives.

https://hivinfo.nih.gov/understanding-hiv/fact-sheets/hiv-treatment-adherence

https://www.who.int/publications/guidelines/hiv_aids/en/