India, a country of over a billion people, is facing an HIV epidemic of global proportions. Clocking in the third-highest amount of HIV cases in the world, India currently has 2.1 million citizens who are living with this autoimmune virus.
People living with HIV/AIDS used to face a lot of stigma and discrimination, which would deter them from opting for treatment or asking relevant questions. However, times are changing and as a country, we have come a long way in providing support, education, and care to people living with HIV/AIDS. If you or someone you know has recently been tested positive for HIV, know that with proper care and medication, you can live a long, healthy life.
Being diagnosed HIV+ can be overwhelming, especially because of the social stigma attached to it. You may have a lot of questions on your mind. Here are some of the most common questions and their answers about HIV/AIDS:
HIV and AIDS are not the same. HIV is a virus that can lead to a set of symptoms called AIDS. It usually happens if HIV has infected your body and immune system for over a period of time, around 10 to 15 years. However, if you start taking antiretroviral therapy (ART), you can reduce your risk of developing AIDS from HIV.
There is no definitive cure for HIV. But there are medications that can enable a person with HIV to lead a healthy, normal life. Without treatment, HIV may eventually develop into AIDS - Acquired Immunodeficiency Disorder.
Antiretroviral Therapy involves a combination of drugs that can help control the proliferation of the virus. Depending on your medical history and other related conditions, your doctor will prescribe the right combination.
ART medicines work by blocking the growth of HIV during different stages of its lifecycle. Your doctor may prescribe three medicines from two different types, depending on how well your immune system responds to them.
A lot of research is underway to find a cure for HIV. As of 2019, there has been a steady decline in the number of people living with HIV from 37.9 million to 24.5 million people worldwide. As treatment research and government measures continue to provide support, fewer people are dying of AIDS-related illnesses.
The decision to disclose a medical condition rests solely on your discretion. However, if your condition inhibits your work performance or poses a threat to others in the workplace, your employer has a right to know about it.
Letting your partner know about your HIV status is an extremely important step to take to ensure both of you are safe from any further medical complications. As difficult as it may seem, you must be able to discuss this openly with your partner.
Do your research: The first step to curing any condition is to learn about it. Ask questions to your doctor, discuss experiences with others who are HIV+, and involve your partner in your journey to recovery.
Exercise regularly: Some people with HIV may lose muscle mass and strength. Exercising helps strengthen these muscles and also help manage stress and depression.
Eat healthily: Follow the diet your nutritionist has suggested and stick to it. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs.
Join a support group: Being HIV+ can affect your mental health, especially because of the stigma attached to sexually-transmitted diseases. Joining therapy or a support group can help you find a community to help cope with living with HIV/AIDS.
HIV/AIDS is just like any other medical condition. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with HIV, consult with your doctor and together, come up with an effective plan to treat and recover from the condition. More than 70% of people taking the right treatment are living healthier, longer lives. It is an ongoing battle, but certainly not a tough one to succeed in.
This World AIDS Day, learn more about HIV and AIDS, and become a part of support groups to join in the plan of eradicating HIV and AIDS globally.