HIV in Kids

HIV information

HIV does not only affect adults. Unfortunately, it does not choose according to sex, age, race, or any factor, which results in affecting anyone at any point in time, at any place around the world. Still, there are some groups that are affected more commonly than others, and young children are not excluded from this group. HIV is quite common among kids as well, causing their quality of life to significantly decrease over time while being responsible for millions of children dying because of it.

Causes of HIV in kids

In most cases of HIV in children, we are looking at HIV being transmitted during pregnancy from the infected mother to her baby in the womb. In a lot of cases as well, the virus has been transmitted during the period of breastfeeding. HIV and syphilis are the two STDs that can be easily transmitted during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

That is why it is usual to get tested for both HIV and syphilis during the first visit to the doctor’s office once a pregnancy has been discovered. If there is a case of HIV or syphilis, early diagnosis and treatment greatly lower the risk of the chance of the virus to be transmitted to the baby.

Sadly, but true – A lot of children have been infected with HIV as a result of sexual abuse or rape. Young female children that are traditionally married to older men, often get infected with HIV and later transmit it to their baby. In fact, the younger the child is, the higher the chances to get infected with HIV, and other STDs for that matter are. In addition, adolescents that engage in unprotected sexual intercourse of any kind, including oral, vaginal, and anal sex, are also exposed to the risk of HIV and AIDS.

How common is HIV in kids?

In 2016, 2.1 million of them children under the age of 16 on an international level, were diagnosed with HIV. Of those, it is suggested that 91% are living in Africa, resulting in about 3.2 million children infected with HIV in 2013. Now with the majority of HIV-infected children living in Africa, AIDS has been considered to be one of the leading causes of death among adolescents in this country.

In most cases, it has been their mothers who have transmitted the HIV infection during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to the lack of awareness, failing to notice the present symptoms, and asking for help in time.

Treating HIV in kids

Although there is no cure for HIV, there is a wide variety of medications that can be used to support a healthy condition and prevent HIV from progressing to HIV. Usually, a combination of medications is being used to treat the present symptoms and prevent them from progressing in the future.

The main goals of any HIV patient are to keep the number of CD4 cells as high as possible and reduce the viral load of HIV. In order to do that, along with the proper treatment, regular blood tests are done in order to measure the levels of CD4 cells in the body.

Millions are affected around the world

Affecting millions of young children around the world, with most of them living in Africa and other high burden countries, HIV represents a dangerous and life-threatening virus that needs to be prevented the best that it can. With infected mothers transmitting their HIV infection to their baby during pregnancy, and the infection spreading through unprotected sexual intercourse, it is easy to understand how we have such a big number of affected people, and sadly children, living all around the world.

References

https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-social-issues/key-affected-populations/children#footnote7_yfxramp
https://www.amfar.org/worldwide-aids-stats/
https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/UNICEF_Annual_Report_2015_En.pdf

HIV in Ghana is on the rise

HIV information

Ghana has been struggling to reduce the number of HIV infections for years. In this region, there are around 150,000 people with HIV. In 2014, the HIV prevalence rate was recorded at 1.37%, with the lowest rates registered in the north region of Ghana, and the highest in the east.

To control this epidemic, the government appointed the Ghana AIDS Commission. This commission is in charge of handling the treatment, awareness, and education for HIV and AIDS-related health issues.

But, despite the increased awareness and access to HIV treatment, this disease in the Sub-Saharan African region is still one of the most common causes of death. Statistics from 2017 show that HIV was, in fact, responsible for 13,878 deaths.

The Rates of HIV Infections in Ghana Keep Increasing

There is a drastic increase in individuals infected with HIV, according to the Ghana AIDS Commission.

Based on the 2018 statistics, there were 19,931 newly recorded HIV infections, stated the commission in a most recent announcement in 2019, December 1. Their announcement was released to the community through media, mosques, and churches.

3,317 of the newly infected were young children between the ages of 0 and 14, while the rest of the 16,614 were adults.

The most common ways of transmission for the 334,717 already living with HIV, are through:

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse
  • Using various unsterilized sharp instruments.
  • mother-to-child transmission (MTCT)

Statistics from 2016 show the same results, the number of newly infected individuals from 2010 to 2016 increased by a staggering 21%. The most infected were those between the ages of 15 and 24, which are 45% of all the infected.

While Ghana has successfully managed to reduce other common STIs infections by 16%, HIV still remains a serious problem.

What Is Being Done to Control HIV in Ghana?

To ensure access to medicines for HIV treatment, the PEPFAR (The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) has issued $23.7 million for AIDS and HIV treatment in Ghana. With the help of additional programs, PEPFAR has implemented a load of viral testing to prevent and control the spread of the infection in this region.

The Network of Persons living with AIDS and HIV in Ghana have been urging the government to boost their District Assemblies Common Fund to provide more funding for HIV and AIDS treatment.

A conference was held in May 2018 to propose new measures for controlling the HIV disease. Some of the leading institutions that participated in the conference were the CDC – Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. HIV Research Program. At the conference, the government stated they would assess implications by 2020 in an effort to end AIDS and HIV by 2030.

HIV infections are still a pressing matter for Ghana

HIV infections are still a pressing matter for Ghana. This epidemic has forced the region to start working on implementing a series of programs and policies to stop the spread of the disease and better-manage the infection. More time is necessary, however, to see the full extent of these changes and whether they will have any positive results.

References

https://www.myjoyonline.com/lifestyle/2019/November-29th/hiv-infections-on-the-rise-19000-new-cases-recorded-in-2018-ghana-aids-commission.php

http://www.healthdata.org/sites/default/files/files/images/news_release/2019/HIV%20Press%20Release%20-%20GHANA.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIV/AIDS_in_Ghana

https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Government-raises-concern-as-HIV-infections-increase-by-21-650173

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6527824/

HIV and AIDS

HIV information

HIV is a harmful virus that damages the entire immune system by killing the white blood cells responsible for fighting off infections. Eventually, the immune system will become weaker and prone to diseases, leaving the entire immune system impaired.

Based on the latest statistics from 2018, around 37.9 million people deal with AIDS/HIV around the world, 1.7 million of them are children younger than 15. Even though in the past, this virus was deadly, now, the life expectancy of a person with HIV is the same as those without the virus.

However, these effects can only be achieved with proper treatment and adequate medications.

Read More: Signs and Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

How is HIV Transmitted?

Specific fluids like semen, vaginal, rectal, seminal, blood, or breast milk can spread the virus. Here are the most common forms of transmission through these fluids.

During Sexual Intercourse

The main way of transmitting this virus is via intercourse. Plenty of bodily fluids will come in contact with the reproductive organs. During unprotected sex, the risk of the infection is the highest.

Injections

Anyone who uses needles, typically drug users, will exchange needles, syringes, or other equipment they use for injections. This is another way they can transmit the virus.

From a Mother to a Newborn Child

A woman with HIV can transmit the virus to her child while in labor or when pregnant. However, breastfeeding is another form of transmission that can be passed onto the child after it has been born since breast milk contains the virus. The chances of transmission are from 15%-45%.

Typical Symptoms Associated With HIV

HIV is categorized in different stages, three to be exact (acute, chronic, and AIDS). If a person avoids treatment for an extended amount of time, the symptoms will get gradually worse.

Some often mistake them for the flu and don’t get tested in time. According to statistics, out of more than a million people infected with HIV in the U.S., 14% of them didn’t get the right diagnosis because they were unaware they were infected.

As a result, it’s important to recognize the symptoms and seek help immediately. These are the most common HIV symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Pain in the muscles
  • Neck pain
  • Rash on the torso
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sore throat

Read More: HIV Symptoms

Proper Diagnosis

It may take a month before HIV is detected for someone who has recently been infected. The tests for HIV are considered reliable; however, there are certain cases where they might show incorrect results. So, it’s paramount that people get tested multiple times to get a proper diagnosis.

Treatment

There are no medications, antibiotics, or any form of treatment that can completely cure the HIV virus. But, with the help of modern medicine, proper medications and therapy can help manage the condition, and aid individuals live a normal life as much as possible.

Read More: Modern Treatment of HIV

How to Prevent HIV

Using a condom during intercourse is the main way of protection, even during oral and anal intercourse. Different medicines are available for those who believe they might have been exposed to the infection. It’s a treatment that lasts four weeks and reduces the risk.

References

https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/global-statistics

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/17131.php

https://www.who.int/hiv/topics/mtct/en/

https://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/understanding-aids-hiv-symptoms#1

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