HIV and Pregnancy

From the early days of the community learning about HIV, there have been a lot of questions and misconceptions about HIV. There have also been many advancements in the understanding of HIV and pregnancy. To understand how HIV affects pregnant women and their unborn child, it is important to understand what HIV is and how it can be contracted.

So, what is HIV? HIV stands for “Human Immunodeficiency Virus.” Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that damages the immune system over time and is the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Our immune systems work on our behalf to keep us healthy and fight off infections. Many people with HIV do not know that they have HIV because they feel and appear healthy. They can infect others without even knowing it. While there is no known cure for HIV or AIDS, there are many treatments and trials that provide a better quality of life and, in some cases, extend the lives of those diagnosed with either HIV or AIDS.

Let’s talk about how you DON’T get HIV. You don’t get HIV from touching, hugging, or being around a person with HIV. You can’t get HIV from bug bites or mosquitos. You can’t get HIV from kissing unless one of you has an open sore or cut in/outside the mouth. You can’t get HIV from giving blood. HIV is not transmitted through saliva.

Now, how CAN you contract HIV? HIV is transmitted through blood and bodily fluids including semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. Basically, there has to be a way for the HIV virus to exit the infected person and an entry for the HIV virus to enter your body. The three most common ways to contract HIV is through unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing needles, and from mother to infant.

How do I know if I have HIV? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that women who may become pregnant, or who are pregnant, have an HIV test as soon as possible. If you are already pregnant, you may request an HIV test at any time during your pregnancy, usually at the first prenatal appointment. The earlier, the better to reduce the chance of mother to baby transmission.

If you test HIV-negative and have unprotected sex or share needles, you should be tested again during the pregnancy. You should ask to be tested again in your third trimester as sometimes it takes time for the virus to be present in blood tests. It is a good idea to be tested because you could have been exposed to HIV through unprotected sex, without knowing it and even without your partner knowing it. If you share needles, you may also be at higher risk of contracting HIV so a repeat HIV test is recommended.

Will my baby have HIV if I am HIV positive? If you discover that you are HIV positive during pregnancy, meet with your healthcare provider to discuss treatment options. You should begin treatment immediately and MUST follow your recommended treatment protocol during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and breastfeeding (and beyond) to reduce the possibility of passing HIV on to the baby. It is possible to deliver a baby that is not HIV positive. The earlier you begin antiviral treatment, the better the chances that your baby will not be HIV positive. If you test HIV positive, your newborn MUST take an antiviral treatment protocol to reduce the baby’s chances of becoming infected with HIV.

Most women that are HIV positive have their babies delivered through caesarean section (C-section). However, some women that are HIV positive can have vaginal deliveries if they have a low viral load (low-level or undetectable HIV in blood).

In resource-rich countries, such as the United States, women that are HIV positive are strongly advised to use baby formula to feed their infants. Baby formula is the safest feeding method for infants born to HIV positive mothers. However, if you do not have access to baby formula, sterile bottles and clean water daily, breastfeeding may be your only option. In this case, it is even more important for you to continue to take your treatment protocol daily and for your baby to take her treatment protocol as well. Even if the mother and baby are both on antiviral medications, there is still a chance of passing HIV on to the infant through breast milk.

Thanks to research, education, and improved treatments, many people with HIV live long, healthy lives. As with most illnesses, prevention, early detection and strict adherence to treatment protocols can lead to favorable outcomes.

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Testing For HIV Infection And The PEP Medication

HIV infected people feel healthy and well for a few years. But when their CD4 count severely drops, they begin to show signs of other diseases. These symptoms may include night sweats, oral thrush, sudden weight loss, swollen glands in the groin, armpit or neck, tiredness or endless diarrhea. Getting all or some of the above symptoms does mean you have HIV. It could be that you have another disease that needs the attention of the doctor.

A person who has developed the advanced HIV disease can also develop canker sores, pneumonia or tuberculosis. One point that people should note is that it is only a test that can reveal the truth about their HIV status. A home HIV test kit can be used by those of you who cannot see a healthcare expert directly. It can be ordered from an internet drug store and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

A blood test is the ordinary method of detecting HIV. A test detects whether you have antibodies that are produced by your body to fight HIV. It may also look for antigens, a form of protein located in the HIV cell. If you get tested not long after your most recent risk episode, a lot of antigens will be detected in your blood. Antigens stop being detectable after the first few weeks of getting infected. Antibodies take up to ninety days in your blood since the day of infection. There are tests that can detect both antigens and antibodies.

After testing yourself, you may get a positive or a negative result. Either way your results need to be confirmed at your local laboratory. The result can be out within one week. The oral HIV test kit is also very common. An infected person will have antibodies in their saliva that will be detected by this kit. Note that getting HIV from saliva is not a possibility. If the test finds antibodies in your saliva, the result will be positive. Do not settle for this positive result though.

You may take a blood test at the clinic to confirm your result. If you think you might have contracted this virus recently, you should still see a doctor. He or she can give you Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) medication. PEP stops HIV from replicating and spreading in your body, hence, reducing your odds of becoming HIV positive. If you are not a healthcare professional you will be given the non-occupational PEP. This type of PEP is given to someone who is exposed to HIV outside the workplace.

But you must show up quickly to begin medication within seventy-two hours of exposure to the virus. You will take two to three antiretroviral medications for a period of twenty-eight days. Nausea is to be expected as a side effect, although not all people will have it. Note that Post-Exposure Prophylaxis is not one hundred percent effective. It is now possible to purchase a HIV test kit in most developed countries. But there are trade marks you should look for to confirm that the product you want has gone through certain regulatory processes for safety.

Tired of Reoccurring Warts? Get a Wart Removal That Works

Warts are deformed growths that occur on the skin. They are mostly caused by HPV (human papilloma Virus). Some other cases of warts are from contacts with an infected person on weak, sore or open areas of the skin.

Warts can happen to anyone, but some people are more prone to it than others. Children and teenagers are more susceptible to the disease because of their weakened immune system.

There are several types of warts, each with their unique shape, effects and location on the body. Some popular ones include common warts which mostly occurs on the hands, plantar warts which occur on the soles of the feet, flat warts which occur on the face, arms, and legs, genital warts which specifically grow on and around the genitals and periungual warts which are found under and around the toenails and fingernails.

More often than not, warts go away on their own. But there are some that linger on for long periods. They keep spreading, get worse and advance to complicated levels.

There are several treatment options for warts, ranging from surgery to over-the-counter medications and home remedies.

While surgical methods are fast and effective, they are also known to be very invasive, expensive and complicated. Most people try home remedies like crushing vitamin C into a paste and rubbing it all over the warts, or rubbing the juice of pineapples and garlic. While this may work for a few people, it cannot be used to treat extreme cases of warts, especially genital warts. Most dermatologists recommend over-the-counter medications when people are really sure the growths on their skins are warts. Because some other skin conditions like corns can be mistaken for warts.

Some very good over-the-counter medications like Wartrol wart remover have about 80-90% success rates. But there are still some complaints of warts re-appearing months after they have been cleared off by Wartrol. This does not necessarily mean that Wartrol did not do its job of getting rid of warts, it did. But most warts, especially genital warts, have the propensity to re-occur.

Genital warts usually come back mainly because there is no specific cure for the virus that causes them. And it is very difficult to control warts in a moist environment like the genitals. When it comes to genital warts, it is better to consult professional help from a physician. But for less malignant warts like plantar and common warts, milder treatments would do the trick.

What wart remover would work successfully and permanently for more serious wart infections?

While Wartrol wart remover is really great at getting rid of warts, there are certain practices that should be adopted with the medication to achieve permanent results.

Warts are primarily caused by a virus, therefore to get rid of them permanently, you would have to boost your body’s ability to fight them. Most people have observed that warts re-occur when they are not eating properly nor getting enough sleep, or when they are constantly worn-out out or sick.

So while using any treatment for warts, getting sufficient sleep and eating properly are steps that would boost your immune system to completely fight against the virus. Foods that contain immune boosters’ like vitamin C, turmeric, olive leaf, astragalus, elderberry etc., should be added to meals to kick up the immune system.

Also, exercising regularly keeps your body and immune system active and strong. This reduces the risks of warts re-developing.

If you stay around people with warts, let them treat theirs at the same time you treat yours. This is because warts are very communicable and can spread back to you upon contact with them just as easily, even after recent treatment.

Most warts can be cured using regular basic treatment, others need extreme surgical methods. The key though to getting rid of warts and ensuring that they stay away is to boost your immune system daily with healthy foods, proper rest, and regular exercises, irrespective of the wart removal method you decide to use.

The Upside Of Herpes – When One Infection Protects Against Another

“Every cloud has a silver lining” – that’s what people sometimes say. But they are not thinking about HSV at the time. HSV or Herpes Simplex Virus could be unpleasant, yet the viruses that set it off and other related diseases may have a benefit. At least in mice, they provide bacterial resistance against diseases like the bubonic plague.

Herpes is just one of several itchy, blistering infections, caused by the virus group aptly named as herpes viruses. Eight members of the virus group infect humans and result in various illnesses including chickenpox, shingles, glandular fever, and, indeed, herpes itself.

Nearly everybody contracts one of these viruses during their childhood. But the virus group will stay in the body permanently; not just for the holidays. After your immune system combats the primary infection, the virus goes into an inactive phase called “latency.” It stays hidden, showing no apparent symptoms. But it is likely to reactivate at any time.

In this manner, herpes viruses are like life-long parasites, guaranteeing their own survival and causing damage to their host’s health. In extreme instances, latent viruses can cause chronic inflammation, which in return can result in autoimmune diseases or a few forms of cancer.

But there’s a bright side to herpes as well. Washington University Medical School’s Erik Barton and colleagues discovered that once infected, mice went into the latent phase and became shockingly resistant to particular types of bacteria. Different from their susceptible and uninfected peers, they are even able to fight off the fatal plague bug, Yersinia pestis.

In mice at least, latent herpes viruses develop into paying tenants instead of freeloading squatters – resistance to the bacteria is their rent. The latent phase is vital to the effect of resistance, and Barton discovered that a mutant herpes virus infects yet provides nothing in return to its host.

The viruses function by placing the immune system on alert. The effect is just like raising a terror alert, causing an intensified security level where the body is ready to ward off any threats. The viruses activate the release of cytokines in high levels. Cytokines are immune system chemicals. These molecules – counting IFN-g (interferon-gamma) and TNF-a (tumor necrosis factor alpha) – aid to coordinate the defense against infections.

These chemicals trigger macrophages – a white blood cell. These cellular slayers consume invading bacteria and digest them. They’re activated in large quantities in mice infected by herpes viruses at the latent stage. This sequence is just how the immune system protects us against various bacterial invaders. However, in Barton’s study, the protection was initiated by viruses instead and persisted for longer than usual. Good for the mice.

What do we gain from these viruses? Will it have the same effect on us as the mice? Barton thinks so. In his research, two different strains – gHV68 (murine gammaherpesvirus 68) and MCMV (murine cytomegalovirus) – had a similar effect. He thinks that giving bacterial resistance is a universal characteristic of all herpes viruses.