HIV Does Not Discriminate – So Why Should We?


HIV Does Not Discriminate – So Why Should We?

by Anarkalli Aakarssha

DEADLY INFECTION: HIV/AIDS is a deadly disease yet many of us are not educated about the disease. In fact many of us refuse to discuss this issue. It’s considered forbidden to talk about in public.

Wake up! It can happen to anyone! People who are infected with HIV/AIDS are amoungst us, yet they should not be treated differently. As a duty, be more sensitive towards those who are suffering from this virus. Take this initiative and learn a few things about HIV/AIDS.

HIV is the abbreviation used for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

It is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome).

AIDS is a life threatening disease. HIV infection becomes AIDS when you lose your ability to fight infections. People with AIDS are prone to develop various cancers such as Kaposi sarcoma, cervical cancer, and cancers of the immune system known as lymphomas AIDS kills about 2.9 million people a year or about one person in every 11 seconds.

The virus is passed from one person to another through blood to blood and sexual contact. This death toll includes a lot of children who are often infected with HIV virus during pregnancy or through breast feeding.

Sri Lanka has a relatively small number of HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately we have high risk behaviors that contribute to the spread of HIV. This makes our Lanka susceptible to infections.

The primary case of HIV infection was reported in 1986. HIV/ AIDS awareness and knowledge levels in poverty stricken communities remain drastically low. Educating women and men about HIV/AIDS is absolutely vital.

Once the immune system weakens, an HIV infected person can develop the following symptoms:

* Weight loss
* Lack of energy
* Frequent sweating and fever
* Yeast infections
* Skin rashes/ flaky skin
* Short term memory loss
* Mouth, genital sores from herpes infection.

AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. Nearly every organ is affected. Some of the common symptoms include the following:

* Cough and shortness of breath
* Seizures and lack of coordination
* Difficult / painful swallowing
* Confusion/ forgetfulness
* Severe and persistent diarrohea
* Fever
* Vision loss
* Abdominal cramps and vomiting
* Weight loss
* Severe headaches
* Coma

HIV tests look for antibodies in a person’s blood. When HIV enters a persons body antibodies are produced (antibodies are the body’s response to an infection). When a person has anti bodies it means they have been infected with HIV. However there is an exception.

An HIV negative baby was born to a positive mother. Babies hold their mother’s antibodies for upto 18 months and may test HIV positive even though they are HIV negative. This is why PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test is performed after birth. This test finds either the genetic material DNA or RNA of HIV.

Do not feel embarassed to go and see a doctor or to undergo a HIV test. It’s your health at the end of the day that matters, not what people think of you.

Do not discriminate those suffering from AIDS. The rejection is often worse than the infection itself. I did an AIDS campaign along with Kumar Sangakkara and Dian Gomes. The campaign’s slogan was HIV does not discriminate – so why should we? Remember this thought always.