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

What Everyone Should Know About World AIDS Day

HIV information

Every year December 1 is marked as World AIDS Day around the globe and an opportunity to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, inspire people to get tested, and encourage them to learn as much as they can about this widespread problem. But, you don’t have to wait for December 1 to learn about HIV. You should use every opportunity you have to get informed. Scroll down to see what everyone should know about HIV.

What is HIV?

Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV is a virus that damages a person’s immune system, especially CD4 cells (also known as T cells). Over time, especially when not managed properly, HIV destroys so many cells that the immunity is unable to protect the body from diseases and infections.

HIV vs. AIDS

Most people think HIV and AIDS are the same things, but they are not. HIV is a virus, but AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a condition. Developing HIV can lead to AIDS. In other words, AIDS is stage 3 of HIV and develops when the virus has caused significant damage to the immune system. Not every person with HIV will develop AIDS.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is spread from one person to another through bodily fluids that include blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids, and breast milk. One person cannot get HIV through casual contact with an infected individual e.g., through a handshake.

What are the symptoms of HIV?

Within two to four weeks after HIV infection, a person may develop flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, headache, rash, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and muscle or joint pain. These symptoms may last a few days, but in some people, they persist for several weeks. Symptoms are usually mild, and most people don’t even notice them.

As the virus marks progress, the swelling of the lymph nodes becomes more pronounced, and other symptoms worsen too.

Who is at risk of HIV?

Factors that increase the risk of HIV include:

  • Having unprotected sex
  • Presence of STD
  • Use of intravenous drugs
  • Being an uncircumcised man

Is HIV curable?

Unfortunately, no! HIV is a lifelong problem. Scientists and doctors are trying to find a cure for HIV, and hopefully, in the near future, they will succeed. At this point, there are various treatments, such as antiretroviral therapy, to manage this condition and prevent complications or its progression to AIDS.

Prevalence of HIV

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 37.9 million people had HIV in 2018. In June 2019, 24.5 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy. The prevalence of HIV is particularly high in sub-Saharan countries. This is partly due to low awareness of HIV, stigma associated with getting tested, and insufficient prevention campaigns.

HIV is still a global problem

Although the number of people with HIV has decreased over the decades, millions of people, including children, still have it. This lifelong condition can be managed with antiretroviral therapy that prevents complications and progression to AIDS.

Read more: HIV in Ghana is on the rise

Read More: HIV in Nigeria

References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hiv-aids/symptoms-causes/syc-20373524

https://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hiv-aids

Signs and Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

HIV information

People can feel completely healthy for years before they even realize they are infected with HIV. Sometimes it may take ten years before the symptoms show up. Which is why regular testing is important for anyone who suspects they have been exposed to the dangerous virus.

This includes individuals who have had unprotected intercourse or anyone who has shared needles or syringes when taking drugs. Adequate treatment is crucial for managing the symptoms.

Since the symptoms of the virus can vary from person to person, it is very hard to generalize it. That’s why the virus has been divided into three stages, each with its own symptoms and characteristics.

  1. Stage 1 – Acute HIV
  2. Stage 2 – HIV Dormancy
  3. Stage 3 – AIDS

Read More: HIV and AIDS

The Symptoms of HIV Typical for the First Stage (Acute HIV)

Based on statistics, 80% of the people with HIV during the first couple of weeks, experience symptoms that feel very much like the flu. This stage will begin 4 or 6 weeks after the individual has been infected. At this stage, the body will mobilize the entire immune system to fight the virus. As a result, the symptoms can be the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Exhaustion
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the muscles and joints
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes
  • Upper body rash
  • Vomiting
  • Weak muscles

For many, these are not significant symptoms, which is why many people ignore them. If you believe in having been in contact with someone carrying the virus, it’s best to get tested.

The Symptoms of HIV Typical for the Second Stage (HIV Dormancy)

According to statistics, the second stage of HIV can last more than ten years. But, the biggest issue for this particular stage is that most people don’t even have any symptoms. As a result, they can unknowingly pass the virus to someone else.

As the virus progresses, it will deteriorate the immune system affecting all the white blood cells that help the body fend of viruses. In the end, the system will be more susceptible to various diseases, infections, and bacteria.

To monitor the second stage, blood samples are important. They can help analyze the T-helper and white blood cells count in the system. Once the number of these cells falls to a certain level, the third stage begins.

The Symptoms of HIV Typical for the Third Stage (AIDS)

Based on recent statistics, 17,803 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with stage 3 HIV, known as AIDS. Thirty-three of them were children not older than 13, while 4,308 were females, both adolescents, and adults; the rest were males.

This stage begins when the immune system of the infected individual has been destroyed. Even the slightest and insignificant infections can be fatal. Some of the symptoms may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Constant exhaustion
  • Extreme and unexpected weight loss
  • Fungal infections (vagina, throat, mouth)
  • Lengthy periods of fever (more than ten days)
  • Prolonged and severe diarrhea
  • Soft and swollen and lymph nodes on the groin and neck
  • Sweating during the night
  • Wheezing

Read More: HIV Modern Treatment

References

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/hiv-aids/what-are-symptoms-hivaids

https://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids/symptoms-men

https://www.avert.org/about-hiv-aids/symptoms-stages

https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/overview/index.html

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

HIV Symptoms

HIV information

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a sexually transmitted infection that attacks your immune system, thus compromising your body’s ability to fight disease. It’s quite prevalent in African countries such as Ghana, where the national prevalence of HIV is at 2.4%.  Luckily, with medication, most of the effects of HIV are subdued, and patients can live a long and healthy life.

However, medication is only effective if HIV treatment begins early. To ensure that you can catch HIV early, you should always be on the lookout for any symptoms of the virus. There are different stages of the virus, with different symptoms at each stage. Though symptoms may vary from person to person, here are a few common ones to keep in mind.

Read More: HIV and AIDS Overview

Read More: Signs and Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

Acute HIV Infection

This is the first stage, beginning two to four weeks after the virus enters your body. Most symptoms at this stage are flu-like and can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Aching Muscles
  • Sore Throat
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Fatigue

Not everyone will experience symptoms at this stage. Roughly 70% of HIV infected people will feel experience symptoms in stage 1.

Clinical Latent Infection

At this stage, the virus begins to spread slowly. At this stage, patients are likely to experience:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Thrush
  • Shingles

However, eventually, the flu-like symptoms go away, and most HIV infected people do not show any signs of carrying the disease. Yet they can still transmit it to other people. If the virus remains untreated, this stage can last for up to 15 years. However, it can also progress onto the next stage quicker than this.

AIDS

This is the last stage of the virus. It’s the point where the virus completely weakens your body’s immune system and progress to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Symptoms of this stage include:

  • Weight Loss
  • Extreme Tiredness
  • Prolonged Swelling Of Lymph Glands
  • Persistent Diarrhoea
  • Pneumonia
  • Memory Loss
  • Depression
  • Night Sweats
  • White Spots On Your Tongue

Importance of detecting symptoms

The latency period of HIV makes it extremely important to spot the symptoms in stage 1. During stage 2, more often than not, no symptoms appear, and if you wait till stage 3 to get treatment, you may be too late.

The safest option is to take precautionary measures. Make sure to take part in awareness campaigns that your local government or NGOs may be organizing. These are great ways to make yourself more aware of how you can protect yourself.

A recent report found that rates of HIV in pregnant women in Ghana declined after they attended an antenatal clinic. It’s important to keep yourself aware in order to protect yourself from any possible way of transmission and get tested for HIV regularly.

Read More: HIV Treatment

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hiv-aids/symptoms-causes/syc-20373524

https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/symptoms-of-hiv

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

https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Greater-Accra-Ashanti-Regions-lead-in-HIV-prevalence-rate-651459#