Uche Ezenwa
Photo Credit: Antaranews

Question: How is HIV Transmitted?

 Answer: ” When an infected person’s sweat touches another person”

The answer might seem a tad bizarre, yes but TBH this was one of the answers gotten when a client was asked “What do you know about HIV?” It might shock you to know that there are millions of people still living with thoughts similar or worse, I can’t even count how many times I have heard “by sharing cup, spoon, plate etc.”

So today I’ll educate you on the basics of HIV which would educate and also enlighten you on what you need to know about the virus.

 What is HIV?

 Human Immunodeficiency Virus

 How can it be Transmitted?

If you are a pretty observant, reader, listener you would either have heard or seen posters/talks informing the public on HIV and the modes of transmission. Which are:

 1) Unprotected sex with an infected person

 2) Sharing sharp objects with an infected person. e.g. Tooth brush, cutting comb, clippers,

nail files etc.

 3) Blood Transfusion with infected blood i.e. blood contact

 4) Infected mother to child transmission. It can be transmitted during delivery and breast

feeding.

 These are the only four ways HIV can be Transmitted!

 So readers, what are the misconceptions???

 – Exchange of sweat with an infected person

 -Sharing of spoon, cups with an infected person

 – Hugging, Shaking

 -through insects. HIV is Human Immuno… Human! Meaning transmitted via humans

-Kissing , EXCEPT IF BOTH PARTIES HAVE ULCERS OR SORES.

 HIV is not Ebola oh!!!

Here is another important topic on HIV

 What’s the difference between HIV and AIDS?

Some of us think HIV=AIDS. It’s similar to the difference between infection and disease- let me play with your head a little, Pardon me-

Infection implies the presence of a pathogen WHILE Disease relates to the occurrence of cases and outbreaks caused by the pathogen.

NB: ALL DISEASES ARE INFECTIONS BUT NOT ALL INFECTIONS ARE DISEASES-

The Difference between HIV and AIDS

HIV(Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is an infection. Why? HIV is the virus, it is the initial stage, It attacks our Immune system. While AIDS is a condition- you can say the final stage when HIV is left untreated- ACQUIRED Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

NB: One can have HIV without having AIDS but it’s impossible to have AIDS without HIV which implies that someone can leave and NEVER have AIDS that’s why we should take testing and treatment seriously.

Aha! Are we confused? It was almost intentional.

NB: We should never compare the drugs and treatment given to somebody with that of another patient, it differs based on our body chemistry.

Lastly, why we shouldn’t Stigmatize

I will be talking on two types of stigma.

1) Self-inflicted Stigma:

An infected might not want to be judged/seen/treated as someone living with HIV so you receive treatment from hospitals/ clinics ridiculously far from you. I mean at NIMR (Nigeria Institute of Medical Research) Patients troop in from various parts of the country.

2) Public Stigma

When you treat infected persons differently or refuse to associate with them. They feel abandoned and rejected, we are all humans, they need love, care and support not ridicule. I have explained how it can be transmitted so let’s drop our misconceptions and love and accept them.

Also let’s get tested, there are people living with HIV today and don’t even know.