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Things You Don't Know About HIV: Read This To Save Your Life

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We just marked World Aids Day, and there are still individuals all around the world who don't know enough about HIV/AIDS, which has claimed the lives of so many people in the last 60 years. Many myths and misinformation regarding HIV/AIDS still persist around the world; getting the correct knowledge will help you live longer and prevent you and others from becoming infected if you are negative.

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Dr Sindi van Zyl, an expert in the field of HIV and Aids, spoke at a recent workshop about what individuals should know about HIV/AIDS, whether they have the virus or not.

Here are things you should know about HIV/AIDS:

Undetectable = Untransmittable –When you're positive, it's now known that taking your ARVs can help you become undetectable, which means you can't spread the virus to others. “When an HIV-positive person's viral load is undetectable, it transforms the way they live their lives: they can have condom-free intercourse, have babies, and moms can breastfeed, for example,” Zyl said. You can practically live the life of a regular, healthy person if you are ‘undetectable.'”

It can take 20 years for symptoms to show – In some people, their asymptomatic phase can last up to 20 years which means the phase where you have the virus but no symptoms while the virus is still replicating in your system. Zyl also said that “There are groups of society in our country who believe they’re ‘immune’ to HIV, who think it happens to ‘them’ but never to ‘me’. But there’s no them or me with HIV.”

HIV self-test kits – Many pharmacies in South Africa sell self-test kits that you can use with your spouse if you don't have time to go to the clinic. However, it is always advisable to seek a second opinion from a doctor or clinic if you use them. “The kit works extremely well, and the studies that we've done on these kits show very good results,” says Professor Ian Sanne, Divisional Head of the Clinical HIV Research Unit. “However, the preventative technique still has to be linked to the self-test kit,” he adds.

You need 3 or more ARV drugs to treat HIV – “We usually administer more than two drugs to inhibit the life cycle of HIV,” Zyl adds, explaining that different treatments operate at different stages of the life cycle to prevent the virus from multiplying. And that is why it is critical to take your prescription on a daily basis.” Different stages of the HIV life cycle are now recognized, and your clinic or doctor will need to clarify which stage you are in so that you can receive the appropriate treatment.

You can prevent HIV by using PrEP – Full name of PrEP People without HIV who are at risk of contracting the virus through sex or injectable drug use are given pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is for persons who "have a sexual partner with HIV, especially if the partner has an unknown or detectable viral load, have not consistently used a condom, or have been diagnosed with an STD in the prior 6 months," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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