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What happens in the body?

Our immune system protects the body against germs and diseases. It also heals the body after sickness or injury. HIV slowly damages the immune system if it gets into a person’s body, which means the HIV-positive person will easily get sick.

HIV attacks CD4 cells. A CD4 cell is a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infection. HIV weakens the immune system by killing these soldier cells allowing the virus to quickly multiply. The body tries to fight back but eventually it struggles to protect itself from infections. Eventually, our immune system is so damaged that we have no resistance against illnesses like TB, common colds, flu and HIV-related cancers.

Symptoms

There are no signs or symptoms when a person is first infected with HIV. That is why getting checked is so important. If you have had unprotected sex, get tested straight away.

During the first three months of infection is it hard to find the virus in the body. This is called the window period. A person may be HIV-positive but the test can’t pick it up. If you have had unprotected sex, get tested every six months. It is the best way to be sure.

What happens in the body?

HIV 2 Get Checked Go Collect-min

Our immune system protects the body against germs and diseases. It also heals the body after sickness or injury. HIV slowly damages the immune system if it gets into a person’s body, which means the HIV-positive person will easily get sick.

HIV attacks CD4 cells. A CD4 cell is a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infection. HIV weakens the immune system by killing these soldier cells allowing the virus to quickly multiply. The body tries to fight back but eventually it struggles to protect itself from infections. Eventually, our immune system is so damaged that we have no resistance against illnesses like TB, common colds, flu and HIV-related cancers.

What is the viral load: the viral load is the term used to describe the amount of HIV in your blood. The more HIV there is in your blood, the higher your viral load. The higher your viral load, the greater your risk of becoming ill because of HIV. That’s why getting tested is so important. If you test positive for HIV, you can start treatment on the same day. HIV-positive patients should have their viral load tested every year. When your viral load is undetectable, you cannot infect another person and you can live a long, normal and healthy life.

Symptoms

There are no signs or symptoms when a person is first infected with HIV. That is why getting checked is so important. If you have had unprotected sex, get tested straight away.

During the first three months of infection is it hard to find the virus in the body. This is called the window period. A person may be HIV-positive but the test can’t pick it up. If you have had unprotected sex, get tested every six months. It is the best way to be sure.

HIV and COVID-19

The WHO has warned that people living with HIV who are not on antiretroviral therapy (ART) or who do not have a suppressed viral load are likely to have a weakened immune system and may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. Experts also agree that HIV-positive people may become severely ill and suffer from poorer treatment outcomes should they contract COVID-19.

That is why it is more important than ever to keep taking your ARV treatment to ensure that your viral load is suppressed and you are able to fight off other infections. If you think you may have HIV, get tested and if necessary, start treatment as soon as possible.

If you are stable on your medication, ask your nurse about registering for the CCMDD service so that you can collect your medicine quickly and easily.

HIV and COVID-19

HIV and COVID-19 Get Checked Go Collect

The WHO has warned that people living with HIV who are not on antiretroviral therapy (ART) or who do not have a suppressed viral load are likely to have a weakened immune system and may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. Experts also agree that HIV-positive people may become severely ill and suffer from poorer treatment outcomes should they contract COVID-19.

That is why it is more important than ever to keep taking your ARV treatment to ensure that your viral load is suppressed and you are able to fight off other infections. If you think you may have HIV, get tested and if necessary, start treatment as soon as possible.

If you are stable on your medication, ask your nurse about registering for the CCMDD service so that you can collect your medicine quickly and easily.

How do you get it?

HIV is spread mainly through unprotected sex. It is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can also be spread from a mother to her child. A woman who is HIV-positive and is pregnant can pass the virus onto her baby. This can happen while she is pregnant, when she gives birth or when she breastfeeds her baby. It is also passed on through the sharing of needles with somebody who is HIV- positive.

Can it be prevented?

There are many ways you can protect yourself from becoming HIV-positive:

  • Know your HIV status and the status of your sexual partner.
  • Avoid having many sexual partners.
  • Always have protected sex. A condom stops the HIV virus moving from one person to another.
  • Check for other STIs. Make sure you and your partner both get treated quickly if you have an STI. STIs make us more vulnerable to getting HIV.
  • Never share needles.
  • If you think you have been exposed to HIV, go to your healthcare provider immediately to get PEP. This stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. This is a series of pills that can lower the risk of getting HIV if they are started within 72 hours of being exposed to HIV. They are only prescribed in emergencies.

Are you thinking about testing for HIV? Click here.

How do you get it?

HIV 1 Get Checked Go Collect-min

HIV is spread mainly through unprotected sex. It is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can also be spread from a mother to her child. A woman who is HIV-positive and is pregnant can pass the virus onto her baby. This can happen while she is pregnant, when she gives birth or when she breastfeeds her baby. It is also passed on through the sharing of needles with somebody who is HIV- positive.

Can it be prevented?

There are many ways you can protect yourself from becoming HIV-positive:

  • Know your HIV status and the status of your sexual partner.
  • Avoid having many sexual partners.
  • Always have protected sex. A condom stops the HIV virus moving from one person to another.
  • Check for other STIs. Make sure you and your partner both get treated quickly if you have an STI. STIs make us more vulnerable to getting HIV.
  • Never share needles.
  • If you think you have been exposed to HIV, go to your healthcare provider immediately to get PEP. This stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. This is a series of pills that can lower the risk of getting HIV if they are started within 72 hours of being exposed to HIV. They are only prescribed in emergencies.

Are you thinking about testing for HIV? Click here.

With support from the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the National Department of Health.

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PEPFAR Get Checked Go Collect Partners
Health Systems Trust Get Checked Go Collect Partners