HIV BASICS

Definition

Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

HIV attacks the immune system of the body and gradually causes damage to it. Without proper treatment and care, a person with HIV is at risk of developing serious infections and cancers such as tuberculosis, as well as other hardened infection and tumors that rarely affect people who have a normally functional immune systems.

HIV PrEP

Pre-exposure Prophylaxis

Commonly known as a PrEP is a daily anti-AIDS medicine to prevent HIV infection.To define PrEP, it is an HIV prevention strategy used by non HIV- affected individuals to get prevention against infection from an HIV infected person. Daily PrEP or anti AIDS medication needs to be taken before coming in contact with any HIV affected individual.

AIDS prophylaxis reduces the risk of transmission through sex between gay, transgender and heterosexuals as they can have sexual contact without getting infected. You can reduce the risk further by combining PrEP with condoms and other prevention methods.
Being on PrEP reduces the chances of getting HIV through sex by more than 90 percent and for a drug injecting person by 70 percent and a consistent daily PrEP dosage will help them do so PrEP is not a vaccine on HIV nor is it the cure for HIV, it is merely a protection tool to be used by HIV negative people and people having regular kidney functions to avoid getting infected.

HIV PEP

HIV PEP or Post-exposure Prophylaxis is a post exposure treatment process to be taken when encountered with a probable AIDS exposure. To define PEP, it is taking anti-retroviral drugs for post-exposure to a potential HIV positive person to prevent infection. The antiretroviral drugs for post-exposure prophylaxis commonly known as the ART has to be taken by a HIV negative person within 72 hours of probable aids exposure and can be consumed earlier.

This AIDS prophylaxis antibiotic is to be taken by a HIV negative person when he/ she is recently exposed to HIV

During sex with HIV positive person.

Exchange of needles

Physically assaulted.

HIV PEP after 72 hours does not give you AIDS immunity, so one needs to take the necessary prevention of before and after AIDS exposure as well.

PEP drugs are to be taken in emergency situations only and does not guarantee HIV immunity for frequent HIV / AIDS exposure.

Diagnosis

HIV PrEP

The increasing rate of HIV infected people over the world is alarming and most of them aren’t even aware if they are infected. Since ages, using a condom has been the most common way to reduce the chances of being affected. But due to its uncertainty and dependency on the partner for safety, in 2012 PrEP came into picture.
Being more effective with high protection and can be used by anybody irrespective of men or women, made PrEP a more trusted method of prevention from HIV.
PrEP medication involves, two HIV drugs named ‘FTC’ and ‘TDF’ which combine to produce an HIV PrEP pill named ‘Truvada’ which serves as a PrEP medicine or the anti AIDS pill. Truvada bloks the HIV virus from duplicating and providing a protection layer over the ‘T’ cells.
PrEP is only recommended for people who are at high risk of getting HIV infected but are currently HIV negative. It is also recommended to be consumed by people who are HIV negative and are in sexual contact with a HIV positive person or a person consuming injected drug. Doctors who prescribe PrEP recommend a consistent daily dose to avoid transmission when in contact with an HIV positive person.

HIV PEP

Post-exposure prophylaxis can be categorized in two ways:

Occupational or oPEP

where a HIV negative person is exposed to potential HIV positive blood when at work or at occupation. Eg: a healthcare personal when testing is needle-stick.

Non- occupational or nPEP

where a HIV negative person is exposed to a potential HIV infected person at situations not related to his or her occupation. Eg: during sex or physical assault or while injecting drugs.

PEP drugs are to be taken only in emergency cases and not on a regular basis as PrEP.

HIV PEP guidelines suggest that, if a person has recently come in contact of a HIV positive person, he or she should first consult a healthcare person, take an HIV test, there are at-home HIV tests also but to be done under supervision. Only after the test, one should opt for PEP.

PEP involves taking 2-3 antiretroviral medicines or anti-HIV medicines every day for 28 days for afterhourexposed person. It should be started within 72hrs of probable AIDS exposure.

Centre for Disease control and Prevention (CDC) gives recommendations for HIV PEP to various sectors such as children, pregnant women and people having kidney problems.

PEP drugs are the same medicines that people living with HIV take. Post-exposure prophylaxis treatment involves taking two or three drugs for a period of a month.

Transmission

HIV PrEP

PrEP prevents transmission of HIV when used by a HIV negative person in all or any of such cases

  • Involved sexually with a HIV positive partner.
  • One or multiple partners
  • Involved with a partner with unknown HIV status
  • Does not use condoms.
  • Who share needles while having drugs
  • Who went through a drug treatment.
  • Has a bisexual or gay partner.
  • Diagnosed STD in past 6 months.
  • An HIV positive person who is planning a pregnancy may benefit from PrEP as it does not involve in the process of conceiving. PrEP is also helpful in protecting the baby from HIV during pregnancy and breast feeding

HIV PEP

The best time to start PEP is immediately after exposure, if not, it is to be taken within 72 hrs of probable aids exposure. An early start can ensure maximum aids immunity and the medication stops the virus at the areas of exposure preventing it to spread across the body.

PEP works if aids prophylaxis antibiotics or (ART) is taken by an HIV negative person immediately after exposure or within 72hrs of exposure. However it doesn’t ensure 100% protection.
PEP fails to work if one does not consume the prescribed amount of dosage for a prescribed amount of time. It may also make a person drug resistant further creating problems for HIV treatment.
There are reportedly lower rates of lower rates of completion of course in adolescents than adults and children. Improved counselling efforts are taken to create more awareness for the same.

The PEP also being an anti-AIDS medication, some may experience, nausea, acute head aches and diarrhea but stopping the PEP drug due to this may lead to failure of HIV immunity.
Most people aren’t aware of the availability of post-exposure prophylaxis and that they still have a chance to live a normal life. Awareness campaigns are trying their best to provide HIV immunities to people but this should not be used as an option where people take more risks and ignore the causes of HIV AIDS

A genuine anti AIDS drug when consumed daily reduces the risk of transmission through sex by more than 90%. For a drug injecting person, it reduces the risk by 70%. So there are negligible chances of getting infected.

There isn’t any dangers as such and a person who is non HIV infected can lead a perfectly normal life with a positive partner with prescribed dosage of PrEP.
However, the dosage of PrEP being a daily dosage, it may sometimes cause nausea, frequent headaches in some people, some may also face upset stomach or lack of appetite, but these subside eventually within few weeks. Regular checkups and frequent visits to the doctor are recommended.
There may be no long term health effects of being on PrEP.

PEP ADHERENCE

PEP involves 2 drug regime and 3 drug regime as per the intensity of the infected individuals. 3 drug PEP course is recommended for severe intensities, but studies have shown lower adherence rate to PEP courses and post PEP follow-ups. This leads to increased rates of HIV positive counts and some measures may be taken such as improved counselling and prescription of all the regime in initial visits.

Antiretroviral medication has proved its effectiveness in both Pre-exposed prophylaxis and Post -exposed prophylaxis. Both these medications serve as a boon for HIV negative individuals at high risk to aids exposure. The complete awareness and correct follow-up of procedures ensures an HIV negative individual to live a completely normal life with a HIV positive partner, HIV exposed occupations or times where the HIV status is unknown. It is safe even in cases where one plans to conceive a child with an HIV positive partner and it ensures non transmission to the new born. However any person opting for PrEP or PEP must not risk their lives assuming it as a solution.

Myths

A person diagnosed with HIV can lead a perfectly normal life with proper medication and care. Frequent visits to the healthcare and completing the prescribed course on time will definitely help you lead a normal life.

HIV is a virus where as AIDS is an immunodeficiency syndrome, hence is a medical condition. HIV if not treated may lead to AIDS.

One can have sex even after being contracted with HIV only with utmost care and safe sex practices. Use condom, it can help you protect your partner from being infected.

There are chances of getting infected while having sex with a HIV positive partner but with due precautions and safe sex practices, you can protect yourself from getting infected.If the HIV status of a partner is unknown and if he / she is likely to be HIV positive, get your HIV tests done.

With proper care and proper treatment taken by the affected partner, which id ART treatment, one can plan a child together without transmitting the virus to the child.

Only HIV negative people who are likely to be exposed to situations with HIV infected person or HIV virus, should opt for PrEP.  It is safe and can highly reduce the risk of getting infected.

There are no permanent damages due to HIV medication for both PrEP and PEP, there are some temporary side effects such as nausea, headaches, etc but these are observed during the initial phases of medication and vanish in some weeks.

The HIV virus does not spread like other communicable viruses. It is transmitted only in certain conditions such as unprotected sex with HIV positive partner, multiple sex partners or sex with a person with unknown HIV status, can affect when in contact with blood of infected person using common needles during drugs or working in healthcare where there are chances of needle pricks.

SUPPORT

HIV/ AIDS can affect anyone anywhere. It is a virus which once inside you can destroy the immune system of an individual. Different types of medications are available to prevent it and to cure it but with so much unawareness in people, the HIV infected people are unable to live a normal life and think that once affected by the virus, they cannot live a normal life. They maintain distance from their partner affecting their relationship and restrain themselves from their daily chores.

With the advent of courses of PrEP and PEP, medical industry is trying to protect people from being infected unknowingly and also cure them if infected by any case. One must not feel that he or she cannot live a normal life once infected with HIV and should continue their daily routine with proper care and medications.

We are here guiding you through your options for prevention and cure HIV and are providing you the best and trusted medium to take care of you. Relive your life the same way you would if not infected with HIV or if not under the danger of being affected. Leave the rest to us. Take care.  

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