Today, it’s difficult to meet someone who has not heard about HIV and AIDS and the dangerous consequences they cause. Most people, however, believe that this problem does not concern them directly. To be able to justify this confidence and protect yourself and your loved ones, you need to know what is the HIV in the twenty-first century.
HIV infection is almost always the consequence of certain actions and behaviors. It’s enough just to adhere to some simple rules to protect yourself. Let’s take a look at some of the must-know ones.
1) Proper psychological mindset
When talking about prevention of sexual transmission of HIV, it’s necessary to start talking about the relationship with the opposite sex in general. It is advisable to take the issue seriously and build a relationship with the expectation of a long-term perspective. It is necessary to avoid random sexual relationships and reduce the number of sexual partners.
This protects not only against HIV itself but also from the other sexually transmitted diseases. Loyalty to your beloved one will not only save your relationship but health too. Understanding that any act of life is your personal choice gives you both freedom and responsibility.
2) Take HIV testing together
If you are planning a serious relationship, you should co-test for HIV and other infections before the onset of sexual activity. Most likely, you both do not know exactly if your partner was infected with any diseases.
While your partner may argue that he/she has been recently tested and HIV had not been found, you do you have a strong argument in favor of taking a new test. During the “serological window”, the test does not detect HIV, although the infection may already be in the blood, and its agent is able to infect the partner. Besides, you can get tested anonymously.
3) Treatment of the genitourinary system diseases
It is known that gynecological and urological diseases increase the risk of contracting HIV through sex. The threat is increased by two major factors. First of all, ulceration of the mucous, cervical erosion or increased mucosal trauma of the genital tract can serve as the port of entry for HIV.
Second, chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases cause local accumulation of immune system cells that are directly affected by HIV which also increases the risk of HIV infection.
For women, it is important to regularly visit a gynecologist for preventive purposes at least once a year. As for men, routine inspections at the urologist are recommended once since 40 years of age.
4) Using the right means of protection
If you engage yourself in random sexual relationships, always use a condom. Remember, though, that condoms do not provide 100% protection. For maximum efficiency, it is important to properly store and use the condom. Latex condoms are less porous than any other types, so they are more reliable in protecting you against all sorts of trouble.
5) Avoiding blood infections
To avoid HIV infection through blood, you must follow certain rules:
● avoid the use of drugs;
● use sterile (disposable) medical instruments;
● manicure, pedicure, piercing, a tattoo should be performed only in specialized licensed establishments;
● follow the rules of personal hygiene (toothbrushes and razors should be for your personal use only);
● demand a medical check of donated blood and blood products as well as organs for transplantation;
● if you need to assist the person and this is going to involve contact with blood (for example, you need to bandage the wound), it is necessary to perform all manipulations with gloves on, then wash your hands with a detergent;
● if your skin was punctured with a tool containing blood, you need to wash that area with soap, water and alcohol-containing mean, then seal the puncture site with an adhesive plaster.
6) Preventing transmission of HIV infection from mother to child
Transmission of the virus from an HIV-infected mother to child can occur within three stages: pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
● child’s blood and mother’s one do not mix during pregnancy, but there is a constant exchange of various substances between their organisms in the placenta. Typically, the virus cannot penetrate through the placental barrier, but pathologies do create a probability of the virus infecting the child’s body. Modern therapy allows for reducing the amount of virus in the mother’s body, and properly selected treatment greatly reduces the risk of transmission of HIV to a child in the womb.
● in the course of labor, the baby contacts with the mucous membranes. A virus that is being contained in the vaginal secretion can enter the body of the newborn. Breaks of the genital tract, microtraumas, cracks can provoke the child’s contact with mother’s blood. Therefore, it is particularly important to ensure the presence of a doctor who specializes in HIV during the childbirth. In some cities, there are even special hospitals for HIV-positive mothers. The doctor must conduct safe natural childbirth or offer a Caesarean section as well as assign specific antiviral drugs to the mother during labor and to the child within 72 hours after birth.
● breast milk contains HIV which can enter the body of the newborn if the mother does not give up breastfeeding. The digestive system of the newborn, as opposed to an adult, is not sufficiently developed and is abundantly supplied with blood, which increases the risk of getting the virus through the digestive tract. For adults, this way of infection is excluded.
As a rule, pregnant women, registered at AIDS centers, get a chemoprophylaxis of perinatal (vertical) transmission of HIV starting from the 14th week of pregnancy. During labor, women are given intravenous anti-retroviral drugs. Children born to HIV-positive women also receive prophylactic treatment.
By providing a full range of preventive measures, the virus does not get in the baby’s body in the vast majority of cases (90 to 98%).
7) When one partner is infected
Couples in which one of the partners is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative are called discordant. Many of the problems faced by the ordinary couples get even more complicated for the discordant couples.
Most importantly, do not be afraid to talk about HIV with your partner. Share your fears and concerns about the transmission of the virus. Discuss what happens if the negative partner gets infected. How does each of you feel about your relationship? Try to speak frankly on such topics.
Also, seek support. Maintain the relationships with your friends and relatives. You are not alone and there are people who can understand you. Find support from friends and loved ones.