AIDS: 7 tips to know about HIV

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AIDS: 7 tips to know about HIV

Everyone is potentially concerned about HIV

Unfortunately, no one is immune to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). " In 2017, 6400 people discovered that they were contaminated by HIVsays Florence Thune, Executive Director of Sidaction. Among them, 56% were heterosexual and 41% were homosexual: we must forget the conventional wisdom that HIV only affects homosexual populations! "

Another common misconception is that HIV will only reach "the youngest". Still a prejudice to abandon, according to Florence Thune: " about 6,400 people who, in 2017, discovered their seropositivity (This is the term commonly used to refer to someone who is HIV-infected), 12% were under 25 years old and 22% were over 50 years old. The fifties are often in a period of sexual renewal ... and do not necessarily feel concerned by HIV. "

Being infected with HIV does not necessarily mean having AIDS

There is a tendency to quickly associate HIV (the virus) and AIDS (the resulting disease). Falsely, according to Sidaction's Executive Director: " HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system of the body: in the absence of treatment, it multiplies in the body and immune defenses dwindle. It is only when one reaches this stage (often several years after the contamination) that one speaks about Aids ".

Thus, one can be seropositive without having AIDS, that is to say be contaminated by the virus without suffering from the disease. At present, in France, 173,000 people live daily with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): " thanks to a suitable treatment, we can prevent the proliferation of the virus and live almost normally ".

To know : a person who is not contaminated with HIV is said to be HIV negative.

HIV is (often) asymptomatic

Contrary to what one might think, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is not the cause of death. " Most of the time, HIV trains no symptoms: at the beginning of the infection (for a few weeks), the patient may develop flu-like symptoms. fever, aches, headaches, fatigue ... But then, there is no longer any visible sign of the presence of the virus "explains the director general of Sidaction.

It has been said that HIV causes a drastic decrease in the body's immune defenses. " What invariably leads to the death of the patient (in the absence of treatment) are the opportunistic diseases, that is to say the pathologies that will benefit from the body's immune weakness to settle - we can notably mention the pneumonia or some cancers. "

HIV can be transmitted in 4 different ways

  • HIV transmission is mainly sexual: " the virus goes into the sperm and in vaginal secretions If all sexual practices can potentially lead to HIV transmission, vaginal penetration and anal penetration are more at risk than oral sex or cunnilingus. More generally, having unprotected sex with someone (male or female) whose HIV status is unknown, is a risk. "
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can also pass into breast milk - " HIV positive women are not advised to breastfeed their babies "says the specialist.
  • Finally, HIV can be transmitted by blood: " a non-sterile surgical tool (tattoo, piercing ...) can lead to contamination ".

There is now an effective treatment for HIV

There is still no vaccine against HIV: " It should be known that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a mutant virus, which transforms very regularly and has many subtypes: this is why researchers have trouble developing a vaccine - they have been working there for more than 30 years! "explains the Director of Sidaction.

On the other hand, since 1996, anti-retroviral treatments are available: " it is a triple therapy, that is to say 3 molecules that work together "The goal? Put the virus" under bell "to prevent its multiplication and reduce its presence in the body to a negligible amount -" thanks to the treatment, the virus becomes undetectable and the immune defenses go up again "says the specialist.

Effective in about 2 months, the treatment does not completely eliminate the virus: " the person remains HIV positive, but does not develop AIDS. Moreover, we now know that people who take their treatment regularly can no longer transmit HIV during sexual intercourse, even unprotected ".

And side effects? " Twenty years ago, the side effects of anti-retroviral treatments were numerous and severe: today, triple therapy is well tolerated, even if there is a lack of perspective on long-term potential adverse effects. "

HIV, we can protect ourselves

The best bulwark against HIV? The preservative ! " If you do not know the serostatus of the person with whom you have sex (or yours!), The condom is not an option: it is the only way to protect yourself effectively and simply against the virus. "

You took a risk (condom cracking ...)? Have you had an unprotected sex with a potentially HIV-infected partner? Two solutions:

  • Immediately after the risk situation, go to the emergency department of the nearest hospital: a doctor may (depending on the circumstances) prescribe a 1-month post-exposure treatment to prevent HIV infection . Warning: this solution only works if it is set up within 24 hours!
  • If risk taking is older (beyond 24 hours), a screening is recommended: go to your GP or directly to a free information, screening and diagnostic center (CeGIDD) to find out your serological status. In pharmacy, you can also buy a self-test at home.

HIV, still a subject of discrimination ...

Despite advances in medicine, HIV remains a subject of discrimination. " I remind you that there is no problem in shaking hands, kissing, drinking in the same glass ... as an HIV-positive person. We find these misconceptions (which are false and can hurt) even in the retirement homes ! "indignant Florence Thune.

" Thanks to the current treatments, one can live normally with HIV: the virus does not prevent to have children, to practice sports, to travel ... Nevertheless, the HIV-positive people always have difficulty to obtain to a bank loan , to access certain occupations in the field (police, firefighters, ...), to be able to work in certain countries (United States, South Korea, Singapore ...), and are sometimes refused some care, as among the dentists "What if we moved mentalities forward?

Thanks to Florence Thune, Executive Director of Sidaction.

Read also :

⋙ AIDS: A second global case of HIV remission, what does it mean?

⋙ AIDS: 12 myths that deserve to be clarified

⋙ Sida: the sick ask for the right to be forgotten

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