Before I get stuck into writing this review I want to explain why I'm popping it here. I did ask Dooyoo to add a link for HIV/AIDS testing but was told to write it here. So my review is about the test itself and how important it is to have it done really!
Known to be a sexually transmitted disease in the main (oral, vaginal or anal) this of course can be passed on through blood transfusions as well as in intravenous drug taking and is an infection/disease passed on through bodily fluids and is still a killer though people are living longer with HIV now thanks to drugs that are now available. With drugs available now there is still no cure for it of course but I was talking to someone from the Terrence Higgins Trust just last night and was told by an expert in this field that although there is no cure anywhere on the horizon (in her opinion) they are noticing a change in HIV and that it is becoming less infectious in some people which means in a hundred or so years it could simply disappear. Whatever though right now the only way to protect yourself is with safe sex.
I had a HIV test in my youth. I wouldn't say I was promiscuous and was fully aware why I should have safe sex but when I was younger and drinking I was silly and made a couple mistakes that I bitterly regretted afterwards. I had the test done for peace of mind at an NHS Clinic which involved a blood sample being taken from my arm and having to go back a week or so later for the results which was the scariest week of my life and in that time I had convinced myself that I was HIV positive. I wasn't, I was given a bag of free condoms and that was that and vowed celibacy to myself for the rest of my days!
Moving on to the past year. I'm older (37) and was in a mognominious relationship for 3 years. I loved and adored my man and stopped using condoms. I felt in my mind he would be safe and we wanted to get married and stuff and so to me it was almost a risk worth taking. I wanted children and he was my world. However we split up and I was left devastated by it. I went off the rails drinking and allsorts and met a handsome friends brother, younger than me and with a bad reputation for the ladies. When we ended up getting it on I really should of thought safety first but didn't four or five times and only afterwards when I found out via friends that he was sleeping with half the town (apparently even a guy!) I was frantic....and I stayed frantic for three months. I was so scared I told to no one about it and felt such an idiot.
I waited the three month period once again to be tested as we are meant to to get the most accurate reading possible then and called up my local clinic. I could go for the HIV test that night as they held a drop in service however my results would take up to three weeks to arrive back! I was in such a state I left it and worried a couple more days before getting back to the drawing board.
I then got on google and found drop in centres that offered a one hour testing service for free. My most local was Terrence Higgins Trust in Bristol which I and a friend went to last night.
Whether you go to an NHS Clinic or a centre like the Terrence Higgins Trust the process is pretty much the same. You fill in a general form stating your name, address and stuff like that which is very simple and not invasive at all. You then have to see a counselor who asks you questions about your sexual history and why you are there and explains the test to you and what it means. The test I had isn't actually available at most NHS Trust clinics and is different because of the money and funds available. NHS still do the test via pricking you and making you wait for your results. Private and more funded places like the Terrence Higgins Trust use plastic strips and no labs are involved and although I was told that the test took an hour it actually doesn't. The test itself takes 20 minutes but of course before that you have it you have to fill in a form in and see a nurse/counselor first. The test I had done involved my finger being pricked via like a diabetic pricking machine thing that didn't hurt me at all and my blood going on the bottom of a strip and I was told before hand that it was a test of two parts and not only to find HIV in my blood but also to see if there was any odd blood cells about as well which could become HIV too. Yes I had an anxious 20 minutes wait as did my mate but we were happy to be negative when we came out I can tell you lol!
First off I want to give a big thank you to the Terrence Higgins Trust for doing my test. I wouldn't go through the NHS if I needed anything like this done again purely because of the waiting times and harder process of having a needle shoved into me to get blood. The Terrence Higgins Trust team were so friendly, none judge-mental and there were alot of people in there all waiting for the same thing to be done as we were. The lady who counseled me and did my blood was wonderful and although some of my questions before having the test done were slightly embarrassing (Have you engaged in anal sex and the likes!) you can at any time refuse to answer a question and me I was full and Frank (like I am writing my reviews actually) and not once felt judged at all. I got free condoms and plenty of them, offered a full sexual health screen and was told about drug treatment they can give you if you have unprotected sex with someone within 72 hours and if you think you may have put yourself at risk that is meant to make sure (like the morning after pill) you don't get the infection/disease which is meant to be highly effective and proven.
Sometimes we all make mistakes. Sometimes we're cheated on through no fault of our own or raped. Getting drugs for this infection/disease is a must and the sooner the better. As soon as condoms come off it doesn't matter if your gay, straight, pregnant..... you are not immune and you don't have to be sleeping with someone promiscuous or be promiscuous yourself to catch anything at all sexually. Using condoms when having sex is the only way to protect yourself and even then things can go wrong. If your worried then my advice is to get tested and another thing. With the strip test I had done you don't have to wait 3 months anymore to get an accurate result, with these its only a month and I do recommend having it done with the Terrence Higgins Trust more than anywhere else!
For some very odd reason, I am absolutely obsessed with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). I have often thought of what I would do if I contracted the virus and I am still unable to come up with something. The thought of it terrifies me, even though I do not put myself at risk in any way, but of course, no matter what steps a person may take, it can affect anyone.
From quite an early age it grabbed my attention and over the years I have become more and more interested, I read what I can about it and watch whatever documentaries there are on the subject that I come across.
A movie that springs to mind is Philadelphia starring Tom Hanks. It's a very touching movie which gives an insight into the problems that someone may face when they have been infected with the disease. I find the whole thing very disturbing, so much so that I am no longer able to watch it.
Maybe one of the reasons that I find it so interesting is the fact that after over 20 years, there is still no cure for the disease and if I am honest, I don't think that there will ever be one.
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections, even ones as trivial as the common cold. It also causes the infected person to develop illnesses that a healthy person would be able to fight off.
After a period of time, HIV leads to AIDS. A person is diagnosed with AIDS when their body has become susceptible to a collection of infections or when their T cell count drops below a certain level.
It is not known where HIV/AIDS originated but there are a few theories. Some believe that it was passed from chimpanzees that were hunted and slaughtered for food. From here, the virus could have been transmitted to humans when they were consumed or it could have been transmitted whilst the hunting took place by blood from the chimps getting into cuts and wounds of the hunter.
Another theory was that it was created by scientists when they were trying to come up with a vaccine for Polio.
The first known cases of AIDS appeared in the USA amongst gay men and it truly baffled doctors. Through extensive research, and after the virus had killed many many people, the doctors began to develop drugs that could treat, although not cure the virus. This was known as "The Cocktail" which severely slowed down the replication of the virus within the infected people and significantly improved their quality of life. It is said that these drugs could prolong the life of an AIDS infected person by up to 8 years.
These new drugs provided a great hope for people living with the virus and HIV/AIDS was no longer seen as a death sentence. But for this hope, there was a great cost. At a cost of around £16,000 per year, the drugs were very expensive and not everyone could afford the treatment. In poorer, third world countries, AIDS and HIV infection was still a big a problem as it had been with little hope.
What makes this virus so hard to cure is the fact that when the virus replicates, it constantly changes. As the virus multiplies, it is constantly making mistakes. The cells of the virus consists of a protein that the human body would recognise and attempt to fight, but what prevents this is the fact that these cells are coated with a sugar, allowing the virus to go undetected.
What really annoys me about this disease is that we know what causes it, we know how it is spread and it seems to so easy to prevent, yet people are still becoming infected, people are still dying of this. When the virus was first identified, it was said that it would take just 2 years to develop a vaccine. But as I have previously stated, more than 20 years down the line, we still don't have one. Therefore, I think greater research and awareness should surround preventing this disease rather than curing it.
The virus is transmitted amongst drug users where infected needles are shared. It is also transmitted sexually amongst heterosexuals and homosexuals. It can be transmitted from mother to baby during childbirth and breast feeding and of course through blood transfusions.
I am what you might call pretty conservative in a lot of respects. I have the deepest sympathy for people who were infected through no fault of their own. By this I am talking about people who have been infected via blood transfusions, women who have contracted the virus as a result of being raped, and the poor children who have been infected through their mothers. But in some cases I am severely irritated by people with this virus.
I am irritated by the promiscuity which plays a large part in the transmittance of this deadly virus. The sex trade, the drug trade and gay communities which all help to keep this virus well and truly alive.
This virus, in my opinion has never been taken as seriously as it should have been and it is my belief that people still aren't taking it seriously today.
People are still engaging in unprotected sex with strangers, people still share needles and it angers me. And now with the new drugs that are now very widely available all over the world, this will only serve to allow people to see this as a virus that can be treated. There are some who even believe that there is a cure for AIDS.
It is great that a treatment is available for the people like I have said, that have been infected through no fault of their own, but what worries me about this treatment is the fact that people with AIDS and HIV who don't take it seriously are being given a prolonged life which gives them more time to infect many many more people. I just cannot see an end to this.
Something drastic needs to be done.
--- Update (due to a recent comment) ---
I would like to post this information straight from the website where I have just this second obtained it...
"U.S. statistics show, of course, that both gay men and straight men have HIV, and that both men and women are infected. But statistically speaking, how "gay" is the disease?
In 2005 (the latest year for national numbers), the largest proportion of estimated new HIV/AIDS diagnoses were for men who have sex with men (MSM), followed by adults and adolescents infected through heterosexual contact. (The CDC reports its numbers as "estimated," which we will drop in this article for the sake of simplicity.)
For that year, there were 28,037 new HIV diagnoses in men, and 9,893 in women.
Of the males, the largest risk factor -- for 18,785 of them -- was men who have sex with men (or MSM, a term that covers this group whether they consider themselves gay or not).
This means that half of all new HIV diagnoses, and two-thirds of all male diagnoses, were in MSM.
This data is based on only 33 states. For a copy of the "HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, 2005," visit www.cdc.gov.
I would also like to add that during my review I did not soley focus on homosexuals being responsible for the spreading of AIDS and I am fully aware that it is also a very big problem amongst heterosexuals.
Do you imagine your life with scariest and worst virus? Can you imagine your life with HIV? Personally, I presumably know, what I gonna go, If I get that virus. Best solution is suicide presumably. What you gonna do, if you get that virus?
Everyone knows, that this virus is incurable. Your immunity system goes worser and worser, until evolves AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) from HIV. After that you gonna die to painful death. You can't imagine that? You don't want to get that virus? So, you have to be really careful.
1) Always if you are at sexual relations, use condom! Condom is the best protector from HIV. Without condom, It's really big percent, that you get HIV (if you having a sex with people who has HIV). So always use condom, before you aren't so convinced, that your partner don't have HIV.
2) HIV propagates with sperm and with blood. So be extra careful, before you let strange people to do some tattoo for you, because on the tattoo needle, there might me some kind of blood.
3)You don't get HIV, by kissing people who has HIV virus.
4)HIV don't propagate, if you touch people with HIV virus.
HIV is incurable, but It's possible to lengthen HIV sick life, by eating some medicines and tablets. These medicines preclude sickness propagation.
But you don't want to eat medicines all the day? Then try to avoid having a sex with strangers, but if you having a sex with them, use condom, always! A lot of people have died, because of AIDS and we don't want it.
© iHate22 December 8 2008
HIV is a disease that damages the bodys immune system no longer allowing it to fight infections and making the body weaker as a result of this.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, when put like this it doesnt sound like anything drastic but when you know that this is a life long or limiting illness that has no cure or treatment for it it puts a very different slant on this disease.
Over time the immune system weakens that much that infections and cancers that would have normaly been fought off by your bodys own defence mechanisms takes over, this makes the carrier very ill and is at this pint when the disease is then refered to as aids.
Hiv can only be passed on by cross contamination of infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk. For any single people out there i hope this makes you think twice about not wearing a condom in future.
There is no cure for HIV but there is a treatment available to prolong the disease developing to the stage of being classified as aids, this is a treatment by drugs, usually a few different types taken together so is refered to as combination therapy and can be very successful for many years. These drugs will have to be taken for the rest of your life. Even with these drgs you are not guaranteed a life as long as most as you will build an intolerance to the drugs and have to be changed onto different combinations and eventually there will be no more cobinations to try but wholst taking these you can lead a normal life.
My hubby is HIV positive which he contracted from a tattoo salon at 18 years of age and has been on a combination of drugs for the last 7 years now, his only symptoms were a flu like cold and achy limbs which seembed to linger way longer than a normal cold, luckily when he was tested his levels of hiv in his blood were very low so hadnt managed to pass the disease on to anyone without knowing about it.
What angers me the most about this disease is people oppinions of it, most people believe that every HIV patient has been a needle user at some point or is gay so have a low oppinion of them, this is not always the case and this disease is not half as rare as you may think, there are over 65000 diagnosed people in the uk with HIV as i write this and god only knows how many undiagnosed people many of who didnt catch this from drug abuse.
My other big bug bare with this and people attitudes is how little people understand about it, the amount of people who will avoid you if they know you have this disease as if they are going to catch it by talking to you.
I get a lot of strange questions about why i am with my a man who is HIV positive, why shouldnt i be, i love him just like any one else, we may not be spending the rest of my life together but we will certainly be spendig the rest of his life together.
The main question people ask me is are you not scared of catching it ? yes would be my honest answer but if we are always careful it is very very unlikely and possibly less likely than anyone else is to contract it.
The other main horror people have is that we have children, they were concieved by IVF treatment using a donors sperm so baby nor me were ever compromised.
People with HIV go through enough turmoil in there lives without being treated like a leopar so bear this in mind if you ever happen to meet one of the 65000 people in the uk with the disease.
When you get infected with the HI-virus, symptoms like fever, headache, pain in the limbs, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes can occur during the first weeks. But please, don't rely on these early HIV symptoms since they are flu-like symptoms. The only way to make sure whether or not you are infected is to have a HIV test.Read more about HIV and AIDS symptoms at:<a href="http://www.hiv-symptoms.info" target="_blank">HIV Symptoms</a>
HIV a super virus can be aptly named the human irradicating virus as none other pathogen has caused such death,destruction both of the human body as well the human soul!.It is a super virus as none of the available treatment measures are 100%effective.It can be speculated that HIV might be a man made virus,fall out of some covert biological weapons programme!The effects of HIV on the human body are well known but what has emerged is its ability to degrade the human soul as well.The social stigma attached to it is very bad especially in the developing countries.An HIV infected person is otracised from society.In case of women who have contracted the virus from their husbands life becomes a living hell.People have misconception that it spreads through contact with infected person or his belongings thus makin that person an untouchable.In one case i had to treat a patient for a facial abcess and he was HIV +ve.It was during internship of BDS course in a Government Institution,the attending nurse being quite experienced was so frightened that she disposed of the intruments used for the patient which could have been sterilised in an autoclave.The senior doctors there are reluctant to handle HIV +ve patients and order the junior doctors to do the treatment fearing that they may contract the virus -talk about the learned uneducated!
During my A Level Geography course one of my modules instructed me to look at a widespread illness which affected less developed countries more so than more developed countries. After deliberating for a while about which would be the easiest one, I chose HIV which is the causation disease of Aids to study and thought it might prove informative to summarise my findings here. In the past I have heard a lot of things about HIV and after carrying out my research I was relatively surprised by the findings.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus and causes AIDS which stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. The World Health Organisation estimates that there are over 40 million infections worldwide. The first aids diagnosis was made in 1979 in New York, which was later, followed in 1983 by the LAV1 virus isolation by Montagnier. A year later in 1984 Gallo isolated the HIV virus. However there has been some debate as to whether HIV was around much earlier as in the early 1970s Slims disease was present in much of Africa, and as HIV was in circulation before Aids this was quite possibly its origin.
Exactly where this virus comes from is unknown and how it entered the human population is still a matter of great debate. It would appear that HIV was circulating well before Aids came into the equation. It had been proposed that it has been present in humans in a very weak form for many years prior to the diagnosis and is thought to originate from the African Green Monkey. It has been suggested that humans consumed the meat of this animal, or the animal bit humans and this is the most probable point of entry into the human population. From this it is thought to have become spread worldwide due to tourism.
How does it spread
The known ecology of this disease is that it is a retro virus, which means that it copies itself into other cells in the body and therefore is very dependant on the infected body for survival. HIV possesses a code that allows it to replicate within the human body. HIV belongs to a group called the lentiviruses which have the ability to enter the body and lie dormant for long periods of time without doing any damage. On entrance to the human body the virus enters immune system cells and also cells within the brain, and multiplies within them. The immune system cells are responsible for stimulating the immune system when an infection enters the body and so therefore susceptibility to disease increase. Once the virus has infected the immune system cells, the cells become more present when the infected patient is ill. This slowly destroys the immune system leaving the person susceptible to infections. As the infected human gets ill they reproduce more and more.
An area which is often misunderstood, and indeed I am also guilty of this, is with regard to transmission of the disease. Im sure most of you have heard that you could catch HIV from sitting on the same toilet seat as an infected person or drinking out of the same glass, I know these rumours were rife in my school after our HIV talk! However, transmission of the disease is through direct transmission from an infected person through blood, semen or vaginal secretions into another persons blood stream. This transmission can occur in a number of ways; sexual activity, shared hypodermic needles, blood transfusions and from an infected mother to her unborn or newborn child. However if there is no exchange of body fluids, there is no transmission.
Other transmission modes include haemophiliacs via blood donations and in the past it is thought that up to 25% of people may have been affected in this way, however blood screening is now carried out. Secondly mother to baby transmission is also common, 25% of mothers infected with HIV will pass it on to their unborn child. Drug users via needles also can pass HIV on; in 1982 in Edinburgh 50% of drug users were infected with HIV due to this. Lastly, sexual transmission either with homosexuals and more recently heterosexuals the high-risk group is those with a high number of sexual partners and also partaking in unsafe sex.
From HIV to Aids
There are 3 known main phases within the life cycle of HIV. Before these occur the human has to get infected by blood or semen exchange and then there follows a latent period of approx. 8 weeks while the virus builds up. Following this comes the first phase, known as the chronic phase that lasts for approx. 2 years and where the human is the most infectious and the immune system can often manage to suppress levels of HIV. The second phase occurs after this and lasts for approx. 6 years whereby the virus becomes harder to transmit to others yet the human remains fairly healthy. Lastly, often following diagnosis now, the immune system becomes growingly weaker and symptoms of aids begin to develop.
Once aids has developed the main effect is that the immune system becomes increasing weaker as time goes on and also susceptible to other illnesses. For example, 60% of people with aids have had some sort of respiratory infection; mainly pneumonia but also TB and 20% find it to affect their nervous system by causing dementia.
There is no known cure for AIDS at present. There is however a drug that seems to prolong the lives of AIDS patients; AZT (azidothymidine). It is not a cure, but it does however extend the period of time when the immune system can still cope. In the 1980s AZT seemed to also extend the life cycle periods 1 and 2, it has been found to increase phase 2 from 6 years up to 15 years and therefore create a very slow developing infection.
It is impossible to prevent the spread of AIDS and HIV, but it can be controlled to a certain extent. People who think they might be at risk could voluntarily have a blood test to confirm or refute their suspicions. Contact tracing could be carried out. This involves contacting all of your sexual partners, and then they contact all of theirs and so on. This may prove difficult because people may not be in contact with all known partners, or they might not even know them. Safer behaviour could be promoted such as using condoms, clean needles, having less sexual partners etc. Also as a final control aspect, information concerning the disease should be provided to all, not just those who are most at risk.
However, what must be remembered is that HIV is a worldwide phenomena and each country it affects has different levels of economic development and different cultural attitudes which mean that worldwide control is not possible by a single measure. It is clear to see that there is a higher prevalence in poorer nations and the non-western world; this is worsened by the fact that the cost of a HIV test exceeds the per capita health budget and therefore the main problem here is ignorance.
For example, Ghana is typically what is classed as a third world country where the majority of people there are living below the poverty line and have a very poor standard of living. Literacy rates for males and females are 78% and 68% respectfully and life expectancy is 56. The finalised figures for 2001 shower that within Ghana a colossal 360,000 people were reported to be living with AIDS/HIV compared to 2,800 within Hungary. The number of deaths in each region is an accurate reflection of the number of cases within the two countries, 28,000 and under 100 respectfully.
The main areas of policies focus on public health (traditions, regulations on contact tracing), drug abuse (laws, clinics), homosexuality (legal status, organisation of the gay community), sex education (traditions, morals) and confidentiality (law enforced). There are two main strategies within main line thinking, these are the contain and control strategy and the cooperation and inclusion strategy. The former is based on compulsory testing and isolating those that test positive, however this is rarely applied recently due to the advancements in medical treatments now available. The latter is based on engaging those that are vulnerable through education, testing and counselling in an effort to confront and deal with the disease.
The majority of prevention has been post 1986 with a mixture of official and unofficial. Medical prevention includes blood testing (diagnosis, official, letting people know, raising awareness) and contact tracing (not compulsory, trace all sexual partners to allow testing). Social prevention includes safer behaviour (often voluntary groups, promote safety e.g. needle exchange, condom usage) as well as information giving (March 1986 1st UK TV campaign, March 1987 National Aids Week result was that a higher number of people went for testing and treatment). In the UK prevention has been ongoing since the 1980s. In 1986 aids became the focus of a high profile campaign with TV adverts and a massive operation costing £20 million where leaflets were delivered to every house, a cabinet committee was also created and the budget increased. In 1989 Thatcher disapproved of the cabinet and so it was destroyed, not before a national survey on sexual behaviour was carried out and found that the homosexual group was at highest risk. It was found that over 9,000 cases were reported, there were obviously more though.
For an example here Ghana will be used, the main mode of transmission is a result of unprotected sexual intercourse, accompanied with a lack of health education and knowledge about aids and STDs in general. Therefore in order to control this information should be more accessible, through small clinics and health workers who are trained to educate the population as well as the free or very cheap and accessible use of protection. Out of the 47,444 cases reported here since 1979 heterosexual sex makes up 80% of these cases with over 23,000 women having the disease compared to just over 14,000 men. This is worsened by the fact that Ghana has a very high sex trade. Secondly the HIV virus is also spread through blood donations, developing countries often still lack the means necessary to test the blood donations for defects and deficiencies and therefore many people contract the disease through this method. Mother to child transmission is perhaps the most accidental mode of spread and is passed to the baby during pregnancy unless the drug AZT is taken (this will reduce the chance of the baby becoming infected), due to Ghana being a fairly poor and uneducated nation there is very little access to this drug and equally little knowledge of it. Caesarean delivery can also greatly reduce the risk of the disease being transmitted to the baby, but once again Ghana lacks the medical equipment, expertise and knowledge to do this. 7,115 cases of HIV reported were due to prenatal transmission, a total of 15% of cases accounted for. To combat and decrease the acceleration of the disease in this country, there must be behavioural change. The Ghana government has already implemented public campaigns, such as the STOP AIDS, LOVE LIFE campaign. They aim to increase awareness and the perception of risk among the youth. There must also be increase condom usage, among the young (sales have doubled since the campaign began). Due to a high percentage of the Ghana population being religious, faith based support could be introduced; religious leaders are trained to offer support services and discuss risks with their followers. There should be a more effective sex education in schools which discuses not only contraception but the importance of relationships also. Again if civil organization permits, contact tracing could be carried out. This would unveil the entire HIV/AIDS population, but the fact is that these people cannot be cured, or even helped along by drugs such as AZT. It would be useful in only the sense of meaning that these infected people who previously were unaware of their condition, can hopefully now be more cautious in the ways they live their lives, hopefully preventing further spread of the disease.
Increase or Decrease
Over the course of the past 30 years HIV and aids rates have been monitored where allowed of course it is not always easy to test people or to gather data. In the 1960s and 1970s it seemed to be contained within Africa with quite high rates due to culturally people have a high number of partners, and also there being a high proportion of STDs. In the 1970s it was thought that USA tourists picked the infection up in the Caribbean and in the late 1970s there was a USA gay epidemic (high partners, 1st 100 cases had over 300 partners and the gay community tended to move around a lot). In the very late 1970s it spread to Europe, then further westwards. In 1981 the first case was reported in the UK and by 1987 there were over 1,250 cases. However it was not just gay populations that were affected although over 55% of gay men were affected, so too were 19.4% of drug users.
At present HIV is thought to affect over 20% of Europe with the highest group drug users. Since 1994 there has been an overall decrease, especially among gay men, which leads us to wonder if the epidemic is actually over now? AZT drug therapies have also prolonged life and lessened the effects of HIV in the western world, however in the non-Western world (especially Africa) it would appear that the epidemic is still growing dangerously. As to my thoughts on prevention, its quite simple, be safe and not sorry if you know what I mean!
Thanks for reading and hope it has proved informative.