How does HIV/AIDS affect you?
On 1 December every year, we celebrate World AIDS Day and it's an opportunity for us to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV and remember those who have passed away.
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Equalize". Follow #WorldAIDSDay and be part of the conversation.
What is Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)?
Protect yourself and others
There are more ways than ever to prevent HIV. Apart from abstinence, limiting your number of sexual partners, never sharing needles, and using condoms (male and female) the right way every time you have sex, can protect you from contracting HIV.
If you’re HIV positive, there are many ways that you can prevent passing it to others. The most important is to take your medicine (called antiretroviral therapy, or ART). ARVs can keep you healthy for many years and will reduce your chance of transmitting HIV to your partner.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV spreads from a person infected with HIV to another person in the following body fluids,
- Pre-seminal fluids
- Rectal fluids
- Vaginal fluids
- Breast milk
Take precautions and treat all blood and body fluids as infected. Use gloves when handling body fluids.
How can you prevent getting HIV?
You can reduce your risk of HIV infection by limiting your exposure to risk factors.
- Practise safer sex.
- You should use condoms the right way every time you have sex.
- Take medicines to prevent or treat HIV, if appropriate.
- Use Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for prevention.
- Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is available for rape survivors and needle stick injuries.
- Medical Male Circumcision (MMC) reduces the risk of a man getting HIV by 60%.
The more of these actions you take, the safer you can be.
What is antiretroviral therapy?
Antiretrovirals are medicines given to people with HIV to suppress the virus in their blood. They are not a cure for HIV/AIDS. They lower the level of the virus in the blood. This allows the immune system to recover (the CD4 count may increase). People taking antiretrovirals may find that their appetite improves, they pick up weight and problems they had, such as diarrhoea or skin rashes, clear up.
If you take antiretrovirals reliably and correctly, the medicines can reduce the virus to a level in the blood when it can no longer be measured (undetectable).
Voluntary Testing and Counselling
An HIV test is an accurate scientific test to show if a person has been infected with HIV and is usually done on a person's blood. Only you can decide to be tested, no one can force you to have an HIV test. The 3 main steps you should follow when you decide to get tested are:
- pre-test counselling,
- testing and
- post-test counselling.
Here is a list of clinics in the Western Cape.