"It is believed that by the end of 20th century
there will be more than 40 million people infected
with HIV all over the world and India would be surpassing
all others with highest number of cases (about 10-20
million). All may not be infected but will definitely
be impacted indirectly by the pandemic. Therefore it
is the responsibility of every citizen of India to
have complete knowledge about this disease".
It is mostly due to lack of knowledge about AIDS and
prejudice that people have fear from the victims of
this disease. Because of fear of social stigma, AIDS
patients and their relatives hide their HIV status.
Many doctors (due to fear of getting infection) also
discriminate these patients. There is danger of contracting
AIDS for everybody and only thing that can prevent
us from contracting is to have complete knowledge about
"HIV / AIDS is
Difficult if you get, Impossible to cure, but Easy
Acquired – something contracted by
Immune – built in body defense system to fight
off infectious diseases
Deficiency – lack of
Syndrome – cluster of symptoms that are Characteristic
for a disease
Human – isolated to the human species
Immuno-Deficiency – Lacking the ability to
fight off infectious diseases
Virus – a disease causing micro-organism
How HIV infects?
AIDS is caused by HIV, a very fragile RNA type of
retrovirus, which like any other microorganism lives
inside the living cells of the body. Outside body it
doesn’t survive for more than half and hour.
There are two types of HIV virus, i.e. HIV-1 and HIV-2.
HIV-1 is present all over the world. In India more
than 80% people are affected by it. HIV-2 is mainly
found in Africa and also present in India. Some people
are infected with both the viruses. People only infected
with HIV-2 live longer than those infected with HIV-1
and chances of transmission of HIV-2 from mother to
child are very rare.
Once in body, the HIV attacks CD4 type of White Blood
Cells (WBC’s) in blood and gradually kills them
over a period of time.
Once the CD4 cells are destroyed, our body’s
ability to fight infections goes down and the person
suffers from lots of infections.
This stage of HIV infection is called full blown AIDS
and it is the fag end of life. It takes a couple of
years for AIDS to develop and till that time infected
person usually looks healthy.
HOW DOES HIV SPREAD?
Infected person’s blood, semen, vaginal fluid
is rich in HIV. However tears, saliva, sweat or urine
does not pose any danger?
HIV is transmitted by:
Unprotected sexual intercourse with infected person
(either heterosexual or homosexual)
Transfusion of infected blood or blood products
Infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth
process and through breast – feeding
Use of infected
needles and instruments without sterilization or
sharing of needles and syringes by HIV drug addicts
HOW HIV IS NOT TRANSMITTED?
There is no risk of contracting HIV infection in daily
routine activities and by casual contact with HIV positive
AIDS virus is not transmitted through:
Embracing or kissing (social)
Touching hand shaking
· Sharing bathroom or toilet
· Coughing, saliva, sweat or sneezing
Eating together or sharing utensils
· Swimming pools
· Sharing clothes
· Mosquito bite, Insect bite or houseflies
· Caring for the Patient
WHAT ARE SYMPTOMS OF AIDS?
An HIV infected person initially looks normal and
perfectly healthy. The symptoms of AIDS develop after
few years and include: -
HOW HIV CAN BE DETECTED
You cannot make out by looking at person’s face
if he or she is infected with HIV or not. The infected
person appears perfectly healthy and feels good for
few years. The infection can only be detected by conducting
blood test. Example the ELISA HIV antibody test. If
someone is diagnosed to be HIV positive by ELISA and
confirmed by second test (done on different blood samples
and by different methods) the person is said to be
This is a simple but rapid test to diagnose the HIV
status of a person and the result can be given within
half an hour. Chances of a false positive report are
rare in this test, yet a positive report should be
confirmed by doing ELISA test.
WESTERN BLOT (WB) TEST:
This is a specialized and expensive confirmatory test.
This test is done only to confirm a HIV positive ELISA
or SPOT test report. Ever since the standard of ELISA
and SPOT test has improved the role of this test seems
to be very little in diagnosis of HIV infection.
CD4 AND VIRAL LOAD TESTING:
These are expensive tests and only those affording
patients who are willing to start anti-HIV (antiretroviral)
drugs go for these tests. It is mandatory to do pre-test
and post-test counseling for all the patients respectively.
CARE OF HIV / AIDS PATIENT
- Sympathetic attitude, family and society
- Patient should be advised to take adequate
rest and take nutritious diet, rich in proteins
- Patient should be advised never to donate
blood or organs of their body.
- Patient should be advised to use condom
with their sexual partner, even though it is their
- As far as possible patient should avoid
eating outside food.
- Patient should be encouraged to give up
all harmful habits like smoking, alcohol or chewing
- Patient should drink boiled water or mineral
water as far as possible.
- Patient should be advised to do regular
exercise or atleast go for a morning walk.
If patients follow above general care tips they can
live few years longer.
- Early treatment of common problems like
fever, cough, diarrhea etc. from family doctor is
- Early detection and treatment of opportunistic
infections like TB etc. are a must.
HOW CAN BE HIV PREVENTED
PREVENTION IS THE ONLY CURE FOR HIV/AIDS there are
no medicines to cure HIV
Prevention is simple easy and the only answer we have
got today unless we find some cure. HIV can be easily
prevented by adopting simple measures such as:
The only safe sex is ‘no sex’ before marriage
and outside of marriage. Be faithful to only one partner
Judiciously use blood when required and use only pre-tested
HIV free blood or blood product.
Be careful never to use infected blood
Insist your doctors and nurses to use sterile or better
still, disposable needles and instruments.
Before taking any major step in life like marriage
or having child, ascertain that you and your partner
are HIV free.
SAFE RAZOR AND BLADE:
Never share your shaving blades with anyone. Insist
your barber to use only new blade during shaving or
hair cut. (After all there is a risk of getting infection
from a saloon also)
SPECIFIC ANTI-HIV TREATMENT:
It is always better to see a qualified and specialist
doctor in HIV/AIDS area. Take medicines only under
the right supervision of the doctor.
Remember AIDS does not discriminate between caste,
creed, race, religion, and educational or social status.
Prevention of AIDS is our joint responsibility. Education
and awareness is the only weapon in our hand. Let us
accept the challenge to fight against AIDS. We must
support and care for the people with HIV / AIDS with
compassion and understanding.
The Do’s and Don’ts:
When dealing with a person living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA’s),
the bottom line is, you must treat them the way you
would like to be treated if you were infected with
- More than sympathize, empathize with them.
- Assure them of family and social support.
- Allow them to be a part of the family
as he/she was prior to contracting the disease.
- Encourage them to get back to their work
as soon as soon as he/she is physically fit.
HIV infection doesn’t require special rest.
- Keep them engaged in some activity, as
being idle can lead them to depression and desperation.
- Make efforts to reduce their stress and
- Encourage them to exercise, which can
help them in prolonging their life.
- Provide them with a high protein, high
vitamin diet and clean potable water preferably boiled
- Convince them to overcome all addictions
such as tobacco, cigarettes, alcohol or other psychotropic/recreational
- Register them with a health care facility
for regular check-up's and follow ups.
- Immediately treat even minor ailments.
However, it is not necessary to disclose their HIV
the family physician.
- Dispose off blood stained tampons and
bandages properly, either by flushing or burning
- Advice them to use safe sex (condoms)
with their sex partner (spouse), even if partner
- Pursue them at any appropriate time, to
build up their will power.
- Provide foster care to the affected children.
- Help fight the discrimination meted out
to them by hospitals, doctors, employers and society
- Educate the family members and friends
about HIV/AIDS, if they already know the HIV status
- Don’t be judgmental towards the infected,
it doesn’t help.
- Don’t try to probe as to how, when
and where the person contracted the disease.
- Don’t make them feel guilty.
- Don’t discriminate them in their
- Don’t separate them from spouse
or children, since they are the best supporters
infected. It is essential for them to spend
quality time together with the family.
- Don’t use gloves in feeding the
infected person or to wipe off his saliva,
sweat, nasal secretions
- Don’t share razors, tooth brush
and other sharp objects with infected person
or for that
matter with any body else.
- Don’t wash their clothes separately;
this doesn’t infect others with the
- Don’t disclose the HIV status of
infected person to friends, employer and colleagues.
- Don’t humiliate the infected person,
his/her spouse or children.
- Don’t scare them of suffering and
death. In the terminal stage, prepare them
for a peaceful
- Don’t become vulnerable to the fake
claims, false cures, witch hunters and the
- Don’t spend the entire available
money limit in the first bout of illness; it
may be the first
of such illnesses in the pipeline. Make a
proper planning of your spending capability.
- Don’t take many relatives to visit
the patient in the hospital.
- Don’t test for HIV repeatedly, once
the presence of infection is established
it remains there forever.
Say NO! to premarital or extramarital sex