The Impact and Consequences of AIDS/HIV in India

The impact and consequences of AIDS/HIV in India

Whenever AIDS has won, stigma, shame, distrust, discrimination and apathy was on its side. Every time AIDS has been defeated, it has been because of trust, openness, dialogue between individuals and communities, family support, human solidarity, and the human perseverance to find new paths and solutions.” – Michel Sidibé, Executive Director, UNAIDS

What are AIDS and HIV?

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by a virus called HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The disease changes the immune system, making people very vulnerable to infections and diseases. This vulnerability gets worse as the syndrome progresses, sometimes with fatal results.

HIV is a virus: Specifically, HIV is the virus, which attacks the T-cells (CD-4 cells) in the immune system.

AIDS is a medical condition: AIDS is the syndrome, which appears at an advanced stage of the HIV infection.

The HIV infection can cause AIDS to develop but it is possible to be infected with HIV without developing AIDS. However, without treatment, the HIV infection can progress and, eventually, develop into AIDS in most cases. Once an AIDS diagnosis is made, it will always be a part of a patient’s medical history.

What causes HIV and AIDS?

A retrovirus that infects the vital organs and cells of the human immune system, HIV develops in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART) – a drug therapy that slows, and can prevent, the growth of new HIV viruses.

The rate of virus progression in various individuals differs widely, depending on many factors including:

  • Age
  • The body’s ability to defend itself against HIV
  • Access to healthcare
  • Other infections the patient may have
  • The person’s genetic inheritance
  • Resistance to certain strains of HIV
  • Other factors

How is HIV transmitted?

Sexual transmission: Contact with infected sexual fluids (rectal, genital, or oral mucous membranes) while having unprotected sex with someone infected with HIV

Perinatal transmission: A mother can pass the infection on to her child during childbirth, pregnancy and breastfeeding

Blood transfusion: Transmission of HIV through blood transfusion is extremely low in developed countries, thanks to meticulous screening and precautions. This is often not the case in the developing world

Early symptoms of HIV infection

Many people with HIV have no symptoms for several months, or even years, after being infected. Others may develop symptoms similar to flu, usually two to six weeks after being infected by the virus. The symptoms of early HIV infection may include fever, chills, joint pains, muscle aches, sore throat, sweats (particularly at night), enlarged glands, red rash, tiredness, general weakness and weight loss.

Myths and facts about HIV and AIDS

There are many misconceptions about HIV and AIDS which are not based on scientific and medical facts. The virus CANNOT be transmitted by:

  • shaking hands
  • hugging
  • casual kissing
  • sneezing
  • touching unbroken skin
  • using the same toilet
  • sharing towels
  • sharing cutlery
  • mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or other forms of “casual contact”

Is there treatment for AIDS and HIV?

Currently, there is no vaccine or cure for HIV, but certain treatments have evolved which are much more effective and better tolerated – improving the patients’ general health and quality of life considerably – by just taking one pill a day.

Certain treatments can slow the course of the condition, allowing most infected people the opportunity to live long and relatively healthy lives. Starting HIV antiretroviral treatment early is crucial. According to the World Health Organization’s guidelines, issued in June 2013, early treatment improves the quality of life, extends life expectancy and reduces the risk of transmission.

How can HIV be prevented?

To prevent being infected with HIV, medical professionals advise taking the following precautions:

Avoid the dangers of unprotected sex: Having sex without a condom can put a person at risk of being infected with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Drug abuse and needle sharing: Intravenous drug use is an important factor in HIV transmission, especially in developed countries. Sharing needles can expose users to HIV and other viruses, such as hepatitis C.

Body fluid exposure: Exposure to HIV can be prevented by employing precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to contaminated blood. Healthcare workers should use barriers (gloves, masks, protective eyewear, shields and gowns).

Pregnancy: Some treatments can harm the unborn child. To protect the baby’s health, delivery through caesarean section may be necessary. HIV-infected mothers should not breastfeed.

The importance of education: This is an important factor in reducing risky behaviour that results in HIV/AIDS.

Social stigma associated with AIDS

Fear surrounding the growing HIV epidemic in the 1980s persists even today. At the time, since very little was known about HIV and how it is transmitted, the disease scared people because of their fear of being infected.

This fear, to this day, means that lots of people still believe that HIV and AIDS:

  • Still ends in death
  • The syndromes’ association with behaviours that large numbers of people still disapprove of – such as homosexuality, drug use, sex work or infidelity
  • That the syndrome is transmitted through sex, which is a taboo subject in some cultures
  • The infection is because of personal irresponsibility or moral flaws that deserve to be punished
  • False information about how the virus is transmitted, giving rise to irrational behaviour and misconceptions about personal risk

What is the level of awareness about AIDS in India?

According to a comprehensive survey undertaken by UNDP post 2005, “HIV and AIDS are a serious challenge for the developing as well as the developed world. India, with an estimated 5.206 million people living with HIV in 2005, accounts for nearly 69 percent of the HIV infections in the South and South-East Asian region. This is despite it being a low prevalence country with an overall adult HIV prevalence rate of 0.91 percent.”

“India has six high prevalence states: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Manipur and Nagaland. Of these Andhra Pradesh has recorded the highest prevalence of two percent among the antenatal clinic attendees and 22.8 percent among STD clinic attendees in 2005. Given the overall low prevalence of HIV, focus so far has been on studying the AIDS/HIV impact at the level of the individual and households“, the survey emphasises.

In conclusion, we quote studies carried out by the World Bank Group in 2012, “The Government of India estimates that about 2.40 million Indians are living with HIV (1.93-3.04 million) with an adult prevalence of 0.31% (2009). Children (<15 years) account for 3.5% of all infections, while 83% are the in age group 15-49 years. Of all HIV infections, 39% (930,000) are among women. India’s highly heterogeneous epidemic is largely concentrated in only a few states – in the industrialized south and west, and in the north-east. The four high prevalence states of South India (Andhra Pradesh – 500,000, Maharashtra – 420,000, Karnataka – 250,000, Tamil Nadu – 150,000) account for 55% of all HIV infections in the country. West Bengal, Gujarat, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are estimated to have more than 100,000 PLHA each and together account for another 22% of HIV infections in India.

Study Links Drug Use to High Rates of Syphilis

A connection between drug use and high syphilis rates in the United States was established by a recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sarah Kidd, lead author of the report, pointed out that two major health issues, namely addiction and syphilis, seemed to be colliding with each other.

The report displayed a connection between drug use and instances of syphilis in heterosexual men and women. As per the report, the usage of heroin, methamphetamine, and other injection drugs by the aforementioned group almost doubled from 2013 to 2017.

The report however, did not display a similar increase in drug abuse in gay men suffering from syphilis. According to the researchers, the results of the study indicated that risky sexual behaviors associated with drug abuse may be one of the key driving factors for this increase in syphilis among the heterosexual population.

People using drugs more likely to engage in unsafe sexual activities

According to experts, people abusing drugs are more likely to engage in unsafe sexual activities, thereby making them more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Syphilis significantly increased among heterosexuals especially during the ‘crack cocaine epidemic’ prevalent during the 1980s and 1990s. It was observed that during this particular time period, the usage of drugs was connected with the higher transmission rates of syphilis.

According to Patricia Kissinger, professor epidemiology at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, it is common tendency among people abusing drugs to indulge in unprotected sex, exchange sex in lieu of money or drugs, and have multiple sex partners. All these are considered as significant risk factors contributing to the spread of the disease.

Syphilis rates are setting new records

At the national level, the occurrences of syphilis jumped by around 73 percent at an overall level and 156 percent in case of women patients between 2013 and 2017. While syphilis had been almost eradicated, of late, the highest resurgence of the disease was reported in California, Louisiana, and Nevada. Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated, it can cause organ damage and even death in some cases. In women, congenital syphilis typically occurs when a mother transmits the disease to her unborn baby, leading to cases of premature birth and newborn fatalities.

Analyzing the syphilis cases that occurred between 2013 and 2017, the researchers discovered that methamphetamine abuse was the biggest contributor. The report revealed that more than one-third of women and a quarter of heterosexual men suffering from syphilis were reported to be abusing methamphetamine within the last year. The California Department of Public Health reported that methamphetamine use by people suffering from syphilis, doubled in case of heterosexual men and women between 2013 and 2017.

Why is it difficult to treat sexually transmitted infections?

Owing to the overlapping instances of substance abuse and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), it becomes challenging to identify and treat people suffering from syphilis. That is because, typically, people using drugs are less likely to visit a doctor or report their sexual activities or partners.

Likewise, pregnant women may refrain from seeking prenatal care and get themselves tested for syphilis owing to concerns such as their gynecologists reporting their drug abuse. To combat this issue, the CDC urges to bring about more collaboration between programs treating substance abuse and programs addressing STIs.

Fresno County reported highest rate of congenital syphilis

According to the report, the highest rate of congenital syphilis was reported in Fresno County in California. The county’s community health division manager, Joe Prado, said that the California Health Department analyzed around 25 congenital syphilis cases in 2017 and more than two-thirds of these women were abusing drugs.

To address this issue, the country took proactive measures such as offering STD testing for patients getting admitted into inpatient drug treatment centers. Patients coming back for reports were provided incentives including gift cards. Apart from this, for patients undergoing drug treatment, the county offered a care package comprising of contraceptives and education materials about STIs.

Challenges faced

While it is significant to have an increased collaboration between STD clinics and drug treatment providers, it is not always that simple, since these two entities have not worked together previously. Usually both these units tend to focus only on their relevant specialties and often fail to screen people for associated ailments like syphilis or other forms of STIs or for drug abuse.

According to Jeffrey Kalusner, professor of medicine and public health at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in order to fight the rising rates of syphilis more resources are needed. He added that though policies can be implemented towards syphilis testing, these policies need to be accompanied with appropriate resources.

Seeking treatment for drug abuse

Drug abuse is often associated with the development of physical ailments like hepatitis C, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), syphilis and other STDs. These infections can be severe and result in rapid deterioration of overall health. The best way to avoid the contraction of these diseases is to avoid taking drugs or if addicted, to seek addiction treatment help at the earliest.

The drug rehab centers of Hillside Mission offer comprehensive evidence-based treatment plans for substance abuse. Whether selecting an inpatient, outpatient, or a residential plan, the detox process at Hillside Mission is designed to minimize the patient’s discomfort and result in a shorter treatment cycle.

Early Symptoms of HIV & AIDS

Based on just symptoms, you can’t tell if you really have HIV. You can find this out if you get tested for HIV. Once you know your status, making healthy decisions will be easier for you. Different people show different symptoms of the disease. Moreover, the symptoms also vary based on the stage of the HIV. Given below is a description of some common symptoms of this disease.

Early Stage of HIV

Typically, 9 out of 10 people with this disease show flu-like symptoms within a few weeks of infection. Some people don’t feel sick at this stage. They have acute HIV infection. Common symptoms include fatigue, mouth ulcers, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, muscle aches, night sweats, chills, rash and fever, just to name a few. If you have these symptoms, chances are that you have HIV. For confirmation, however, we suggest that you contact a good doctor.

Clinical Latency Stage

If left untreated, the patient may move onto the next stage known as the clinical latency stage or chronic HIV infection. At this stage, the disease is active but the reproduction level is very low. The symptoms are also mild.

If you don’t take medicine to treat the disease at this stage, you may move onto the next stage within 10 years or so. In some people, the disease gets worse a lot faster. However, if you get treatment, this stage may last longer since the drugs can control the growth of the virus giving you more time.

Here, it’s important to keep in mind that you can still transmit the disease to people around you at this stage even if you show no symptoms. However, if you are on ART, you are not as likely to get the disease transmitted to others. So, you have to be careful and get the required treatment as soon as possible.

Progression to AIDS

If you don’t take meds for HIV, the virus will make your immune system a lot weaker. As a result, you will get AIDS, which is the last stage of this disease. Below are some symptoms of the disease:

  • Weight loss
  • Night seats or fever
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Inflammation of the lymph glands
  • Prolonged diarrhea
  • Pneumonia
  • Sores of the genitals, anus or mouth
  • Depression, memory loss or neurologic disorders

However, keep in mind that the symptoms listed above are not necessarily the indicators of HIV. They may also be related to other common diseases. Therefore, we suggest that you run some tests in order to find out which disease you have. The tests won’t cost you much and help you know the disease you have.

Most of the severe symptoms of the disease appear because of the opportunistic infection, which is the result of weakened immune system.

So, if you have been experiencing the symptoms listed in this article, we suggest that you get in touch with a doctor for your medical checkup. The doctor will prescribe some tests that can confirm whether you have HIV or not.

The Nature of HIV

The contagious nature of HIV places it in a different class than other chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, and so forth. The contagious nature of HIV has a more debilitating psychosocial and psychological impact on the ill person’s mental and emotional state than non-contagious diseases and often leads to self-imposed isolation and a feeling of being totally inadequate.

HIV medications can help the body of the infected person but that person’s feelings of self-worth, self-esteem, and self-confidence suffer from a staggering blow that must be attended to just as directly as the treatment of their physical body.

Healing the mind of the HIV infected person goes a long way in healing the body of that person because the healthy mental state of the mind will produce far more antibodies to combat intrusions than a mental state that is depressed and dispirited about the condition of its physical health.

The most dangerous mindset that a person who is infected with the HIV virus can allow themselves to fall into is that of denial. Denial is so dangerous because it refuses to accept the existence of the disease which hinders the infected person from taking the necessary actions to treat the virus and also places other people in grave jeopardy.

Denial also has the side effect of confusing the brain where it will send wrong or mixed signals to the protection mechanics of the body and weakens the responsiveness of this system to both positive and negative external and internal stimuli.

A person can live a long reasonably healthy life with HIV, but that is not good enough when that person is living in a despondent mental and emotional state because of their constant awareness that a deadly plague is actively resident within them.

The powerful human nature of sexuality becomes a burden and a curse for those who are infected with any sort of sexually transmitted disease, and being infected with the HIV and Aids virus also has a good deal of shame and embarrassment that comes attached to them.

There is nothing that hinders a person infected with the HIV and Aids virus from living a productive and rewarding life if they do not wallow in the mindset of a defeatist. Being HIV positive may seem like it’s the end of your world, but it is not, it is merely one of life’s many obstacles and challenges that must be faced with a determination to overcome it.

Self-pity and denial are psychological contraband that must be removed from the mind and replaced with goods and services that are reinforcing and empowering personally and societally.

The nature of Hiv is silent and deadly. It feeds upon the cells of the body like and leech.

Hiv is: “Definition By Mayo Clinic Staff “

“Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight the organisms that cause disease.

HIV is a sexually transmitted infection. It can also be spread by contact with infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding. Without medication, it may take years before HIV weakens your immune system to the point that you have AIDS.

There’s no cure for HIV/AIDS, but there are medications that can dramatically slow the progression of the disease. These drugs have reduced AIDS deaths in many developed nations. But HIV continues to decimate populations in Africa, Haiti and parts of Asia.”

The symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary, depending on the phase of infection.

Primary infection (Acute HIV):

The majority of people infected by HIV develop a flu-like illness within a month or two after the virus enters the body. This illness, known as primary or acute HIV infection, may last for a few weeks. Possible signs and symptoms include:

· Fever

· Headache

· Muscle aches and joint pain

· Rash

· Sore throat

· Swollen lymph glands, mainly on the neck

Although the symptoms of primary HIV infection may be mild enough to go unnoticed, the amount of virus in the bloodstream (viral load) is particularly high at this time. As a result, HIV infection spreads more efficiently during primary infection than during the next stage of infection.

Clinical latent infection (Chronic HIV):

In some people, persistent swelling of lymph nodes occurs during clinical latent HIV. Otherwise, there are no specific signs and symptoms. HIV remains in the body, however, and in infected white blood cells.

Clinical latent infection generally lasts around 10 years if you’re not receiving antiretroviral therapy. This phase can last for decades in people taking antiretroviral medications. But some people progress to more severe disease much sooner.

Early symptomatic HIV infection:

As the virus continues to multiply and destroy immune cells, you may develop mild infections or chronic signs and symptoms such as:

· Fever

· Fatigue

· Swollen lymph nodes – often one of the first signs of HIV infection

· Diarrhea

· Weight loss

· Oral yeast infection (thrush)

· Shingles (herpes zoster)

Progression to AIDS:

If you receive no treatment for your HIV infection, the disease typically progresses to AIDS in about 10 years. By the time AIDS develops, your immune system has been severely damaged, making you susceptible to opportunistic infections – diseases that wouldn’t usually trouble a person with a healthy immune system.

The signs and symptoms of some of these infections may include:

· Soaking night sweats

· Recurring fever

· Chronic diarrhea

· Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth

· Persistent, unexplained fatigue

· Weight loss

· Skin rashes or bumps

When to see a doctor:

If you think you may have been infected with HIV or are at risk of contracting the virus, see a health care provider as soon as possible.”

For more on this go to: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hiv-aids/basics/definition/con-20013732

Everyone say that there is currently no cure for the HIV and Aids virus and widely promote medicating the virus. This is great advice for the benefit of pharmaceutical companies but falls far short of the mark for those of us who are HIV positive.

The cure for the HIV and Aids virus is with those of us who are infected by forming our own independent research and development groups that are solely interested in finding and releasing the cure for HIV and Aids and not making money by only developing medications for it.

By monkeys or by man, however, HIV and Aids reared their hideous heads is a lukewarm topic compared to self-reliance, corporate action, and creative initiative that we who are HIV and Aids positive must undertake as a formidable unified body to cure ourselves of this plague and not depend on others to do it for us.

Your starting point for making your personal stand for life is by becoming a member of http://hiveaid.org. Join Now and reassert your individual and collective independence and humanity.

We must not allow HIV and Aids to be relegated to being just one of many treatable illnesses because that will be like abandoning the ship before it has hit the iceberg. We are the pioneers of our own health and destiny and will forge ahead until we are safely at anchor within the docks of the new city.

Our enemy gropes in the darkness attacking our immune system by using the corridors of our life-giving blood to assail us. There should be a way to induce our quiet enemy to feed upon itself and in so doing annihilate itself.

The cure for HIV and Aids is in the creative energies of women and men and can be developed, if it has not already been, and dispersed among HIV and Aids infected individuals free of charge. There is no such thing as being no such thing as far as human imagination is concerned. The ability to achieve is a gift that is embedded within all of us, some having more of this gift while others less, but we all have this gift if we are willing to cultivate and exploit it.

Our hands are not tied to the whims and the goodwill of others, therefore, we muster our collective forces, pool our resources, and get busy with the job at hand, taking our lives back and dislodging our silent enemy from the tables of nations.