If you are "HIV positive" or HIV positive this means that you have a virus called HIV in your body. This does not mean that you are sick, or that you have AIDS, or that you are dying.
If you have HIV but do not have treatment, HIV will slowly attack the immune system, which is your body's ability to fight against other infections.
But there are drug treatments for HIV. They can stop the reproduction of HIV, and thus limit the damage to your immune system and keep you in good health. Because of these drugs, most people living with HIV can expect to have a normal life expectancy (see Life goes on).
'AIDS' is different from HIV. AIDS can happen if someone spends a long time without treatment and the immune system gets very weak. This means that a person with HIV is at risk of developing serious infections and diseases that a healthy immune system would be able to fight.
Thanks to the medicinal treatments, few people develop AIDS. If they do, they can usually recover. The video at the end of this text is long but instructive!
The acronym in HIV for human immunodeficiency virus. AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.
Keep an eye on your health
The physical appearance of someone you can not know if you have HIV or not. And it is not always possible to know how is your health.
But blood tests can show how HIV is affecting your health. If you are or not in treatment, it is important to have some tests done regularly.
An important test is called CD4 count and is a measure of the strength of your immune system. A low CD4 cell count means that HIV is damaging your immune system. Most CD4 cell count shows that your immune system is stronger.
Another test is called viral load. It is a measure of the amount of HIV in a sample of blood. If you are on treatment, viral load shows how your treatment is working - the smaller the better.
You will probably be asked to have these tests every few months. They will help you and your doctor make decisions about your health and treatment.
As HIV progresses
HIV weakens the immune system very slowly, so you will not necessarily feel unwell. You may briefly have something like a flu during the first few weeks after infection - this is known as a "seroconversion disease." After that, most people have symptoms between two and fifteen years after HIV infection. The average, however, is about seven years.
But many people are not diagnosed with HIV immediately after being infected. There is often a difference of months or years.
If you have HIV for a long time before taking the test, you may already be sick and your doctor may recommend that you start treatment right away. Being sick with AIDS, can cause you to have to take many important decisions in a short period of time; which is why you should whenever you have an unsafe sex, get tested for HIV.
Treatment of HIV
HIV treatment usually consists of taking pills once or twice a day, maybe more (Translator's note: There was a time when only AZT I took 24 of them per day). The drugs stop the virus from reproducing and help reduce the amount of HIV inside your body.
- If there is less HIV, there is less damage to your immune system, and you less likely to develop diseases opportunists.
- And if there is less HIV in your body, there will also be less HIV in your body fluids, such as sperm for example, or vaginal discharge in another example, and this decreases the likelihood of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner or to your baby During the pregnancy. This is the concept of PrEP.
The goal of HIV treatment is to have an "undetectable viral load" - this means that there is only a small amount of HIV in the body. But drugs are not a way to get the cure - they can not end the HIV in your body. HIV infection or AIDS are chronic diseases
Today, anti-HIV agents have fewer side effects than the drugs used in the past.
Most of the side effects are caused by the body getting used to a new drug and they go after a few weeks. Some people feel sick with diarrhea or feel more tired than usual. The more severe and long-term side effects are much less common. If a drug causes you problems, your doctor may usually give you another antiretroviral drug.
I should have treatment for HIV?
TRANSLATOR NOTE: This text was drafted into the reality of people living in the UK, where the therapy protocol following the parameters below in gray. Right after them, I put how things are in Brazil green
Not all people with HIV choose to take anti-HIV drugs soon after. Treatment normally be recommended:
- If its CD4 count is below 350,
- If HIV is to do you harm,
- If you have other health condition, such as hepatitis and tuberculosis,
- If you are pregnant, or
- If you wish to participate, in order to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner.
In other circumstances the treatment may not be needed immediately.
In Brazil the recommendation of the Ministry of Health and the National STD / AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Program is that treatment be started immediately after diagnosis, a fact that later came to be corroborated by the START study as the most beneficial for the person living with HIV
However, you should only start treatment when you are ready for it. Give yourself enough time to promote a meeting with your self so that you feel able to manage the treatment without making mistakes. This treatment does not have much room for mistakes and starts it in a bad way because it leads to the resistance of "your HIV" to drug resistance and there, my dear reader ... (...) ... Begin the conscious treatment that it is for the rest of the Life and do not take too long to convince yourself that this is the best option, since every day that passes counts against you
Taking drugs in the right time according to the prescription.
This is often called "accession", and that means taking the drugs:
- At the right time, at the right dose, and follow the advice on food and drink.
Nurses, pharmacists and doctors in his clinic can help you with that. You may need to develop a routine that helps you remember to take the drug at the same time each day.
If you sometimes forget to take their pills, medications you are taking can stop working properly. If this happens would require you to change your treatment.
Looking after your health
As for any other person, taking care of your health involves more than an astonishing number of tablets.
This will also help if you can do them:
- Rest and sleep so that you can relax and strengthen your immune system.
- Eat a balanced diet to maintain a healthy weight and give you energy and get the nutrients your body needs.
- Do some exercise, a simple walk three times a week, which is good for the heart, lungs, circulation and mobility.
- Stop smoking if you are a smoker.
- Talk to people and seek support (isolation and stress are bad for your health as well).
As well as improve your physical health, all these things are good for your feelings and your emotional well-being. For example, exercise can make you feel more relaxed and energized.
In difficult times, you may find that you will want to use more alcohol or other psychotropic drugs. They can help you to forget, or stop thinking about things. At the same time they can offer temporary relief by relying on them it is likely that their feelings become more difficult to cope in the long run. A lot of drinking or drug use often brings their own problems and, let's face it, we already have too many problems with HIV infection alone.
Translated and adapted by Claudio Original Souza Santos in Health Issues
A lot of what is said there are things that I went through. I isolated myself in an apartment for three months, and even my power this brought by a taxi driver, which I paid the race, simply because "I did not want to see us."
It was the worst trip, and it was my wife who saved me, not only the love I needed for it but also the patience and diligence to endure me, even in my worst moments, when I could not even bear it.
To "love" me today is easy. I'm fine and balanced. But to that monstrous creature that I was, completely maddened, for things that are not worth mentioning it is necessary to see profuse, in the soul, to bet on it.
I love you and it's indissoluble. And if she leaves before me, there may be no other, even if it leads me to death ...