The messaging we used to have was that “…E no dey show for Face…” and that was back when an HIV diagnosis was a life sentence. Then, every case of HIV ended up as AIDS and eventual death. People with HIV actually died from secondary infections like tuberculosis and other opportunistic infections which happen because the HIV infection eventually knocks out the individual’s immune system leaving them vulnerable to infections that they had previously developed immunity to.
People whose infections progress without the benefits of ARVs develop different infections that speak to the progressions of the infection; low-grade fevers, diarrhea, rashes, oral thrush and sores, weight loss, and fatigue. Today with the development of anti-retroviral medications people can live full and healthy lives with an HIV diagnosis. Very few cases actually get to AIDS which is the end stage of the disease that most people associate with HIV/AIDS. Today government tertiary facilities have a dedicated HIV/ART clinic so anyone that tests positive for HIV can go to any of those facilities and get access to Anti-retroviral (ARTs) medications at a significantly subsidized rate.
As it concerns the new horizons in this field of medicine, It is important that you understand that there is a significant advancement in HIV therapy which is that undetectable equals untransmissible or U=U. This in essence suggests that with adherence to the schedule of taking those medications a person with an undetectable viral load can actually not transmit the infection to a previously uninfected person. A vaccine for HIV is still not on the market but significant advancements have been made in that regard.
We should not forget that the ways in which the virus could be transmitted have not changed;
- Unprotected sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal, anal)
- Contact with infected blood
- Sharing of sharp objects with infected people
When there is a risk of exposure accidentally for example in an operating theatre, there exists a cocktail of medications known as post-exposure prophylaxis PEP which can reduce or eliminate the chance of infection following the exposure.
Finally do not ASSUME that you will not test positive for HIV, please run a test and KNOW definitively what your status is. When the test result is older than 6 months they are considered invalid. Protect yourself with a male/female condom, be sexually faithful to your partner, get your own clipper/manicure/pedicure set, and test if you think you have been exposed.