HIV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases globally. In 2022, approximately 1.2 million people had HIV in the United States, of which black people dominate. Unlike most STDs, HIV has no cure, which means that once you have contracted it, you will live with it for the rest of your life. Thus the need to educate yourself on the disease. In this article, we will talk about everything you need to know about HIV— what it is, how it affects your body, and how to prevent or manage it (if you have it already). Without further ado, let’s begin.
WHAT IS HIV?
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system of its host (person), making it difficult to protect yourself from infections and diseases. HIV is not the same as AIDS. AIDS is a complication of HIV, meaning if you fail to manage your HIV, it will eventually progress to AIDS.
HOW TO AVOID HIV?
Prevention is better than cure or management, and HIV is very much preventable. Here are ways to avoid HIV.
One of the most common causes of HIV is having unprotected sex with an infected person. The key abbreviation is ABC.
A FOR ABSTINENCE. Or
B For Be faithful and
C Condom use.
Observing the ABC law will protect you from contracting HIV through sex.
CAN I HAVE SEX WITH AN HIV POSITIVE AND BE SAFE?
The simple answer is YES! For both males and females. Yes, because if your HIV-positive partner has attained viral load suppression. Viral load suppression is when HIV treatment or antiretroviral treatment (ART) has successfully reduced the number of HIV in the body to a level where it’s barely detectable.
2. AVOID SHARING SHARPS WITH OTHERS.
Another way to get infected with HIV is by direct contact with blood and bodily fluids like semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk, and anal mucus. Sharing objects like shaving sticks and razors can spread the virus.
3. CONSIDER TAKING PRE-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS (PeEP) OR POST-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS (PoEP). These medications reduce the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99%.
4. You cannot contract HIV by touching, hugging, kissing, sharing utensils, or using the same bathroom with someone living with HIV. So feel free to enjoy these activities with your friends or families living with HIV.
5. Also, HIV is passed on from mother to child through pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. But that does not mean HIV-positive women can’t give birth to HIV-negative babies. Mothers living with HIV should talk to their healthcare providers about their status before deciding to get pregnant.
Black people face a greater risk for HIV than the general population. Black women account for nearly 60% of new HIV diagnoses among women. Unfortunately, If current HIV rates persist, 50% of black gay and bisexual men in the US will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. Also, 54% of HBCUs have no formal HIV prevention policy, so let us all play our parts and work together to help end HIV in our community.