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

Modern Treatment of HIV

HIV information

The first case of HIV was reported back in the early 80s. When the disease first came about, patients have a very minimal chance of survival.  Unfortunately, the disease still remains widespread – especially in Africa, where an estimated 25.7 million people are infected.

Nowadays, though, many patients of HIV can live a long and healthy life thanks to medication. The medication can control and mitigate some of the symptoms, but it does get rid of the disease.

Read More: HIV and AIDS

Drugs Used to Treat HIV

There are four primary medications used to treat HIV. Doctors usually prescribe a mix of these, the exact quantities varying from individual to individual.

  1. Reverse Transcriptase

This drug ensures that the HIV virus does not multiply by making copies of itself.

  • Protease Inhibitors

These inhibitors block enzyme protease within the HIV cells.

  • Integrase

HIV can integrate itself into a person’s DNA, making the patient a permanent carrier of HIV. This drug inhibits integrase, and the enzyme used to integrate the virus. By doing so, the medicine prevents the virus from spreading to other areas of the immune system.

  • CCR5 Inhibitors

CCR5 are receptors located on the membranes of white blood cells. The HIV virus uses them as gateways to attack and ingrain themselves within the cells. This medicine inhibits these receptors and prevents the virus from spreading more.

Read More: Signs and Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

Modern Combined Therapy

The HIV virus is particularly difficult to target because of its changing nature. The genetic makeup of the virus changes frequently, and thus, it’s easy for the virus to become resistant to medication.

To counter this problem, modern treatment methods make use of Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART). This method involves doctors prescribing a mix of different messages, each with a particular dosage. South Africa is currently conducting its third-line HIV treatment program for people who are resistant to the first and second lines.

What’s important to note is that even if the medication works in tackling the effects of the virus, it will not completely cure it. The patient will still test positive for the virus and so can transmit it to others as well.

Side Effects of HIV Treatment

HIV treatment as some common side effects such as:

  • Headaches
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Mood Swings
  • Weight Gain

These are only some of the side effects patients may of the treatment face. Every case will vary from individual to individual. It is also typical for patients to have adverse reactions to medications when they begin their course. It’s likely that you will have to test out a few different combinations of medicines to see which one suits you best.

Read More: STD’s in Africa

What’s next?

Advances in science have now made it possible for patients of HIV to live long, healthy lives. In particular, Anti-Retroviral Therapy is a great method of treatment for patients today. Research in Ghana has also shown that it’s cheaper for patients in the long run.

References:

https://journals.lww.com/aidsonline/FullText/2017/10230/The_costs_of_HIV_treatment_and_care_in_Ghana.13.aspx

https://www.aidsmap.com/news/jan-2019/south-africa-reports-successful-third-line-hiv-treatment-programme

https://www.afro.who.int/health-topics/hivaids

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 Treatment

HIV information

Though HIV cannot be cured completely, advances in modern medicine have made sure that patients of the disease can live long and healthy lives. Treatment for HIV can also bring the viral load of HIV down to undetectable levels, which means that those infected are not even at risk of transmitting the disease.

Antiretroviral Therapy (ART)

ART refers to using a combination of medicines to tackle HIV and manage the virus. ART includes taking different drugs from different classes, each tackling the virus in different ways. Currently, countries like Ghana use a triple combination of antiretrovirals.

What makes ART so effective is that it reduces the chances of the infection becoming drug-resistant. By combining different kinds of drugs, ART tackles the virus much more effectively. Currently, approximately 67% of adults with HIV in South Africa are using ART.

When Is the Right Time to Start Treatment?

ART was previously recommended to only those patients whose CD4 T cell count was below 350, depicting an alarming case of HIV. However, now medical practitioners recommend ART to anyone with detectable HIV, regardless of CD4 T cell count.

If your HIV test comes back positive, it’s essential that you begin treatment right away. Otherwise, the infection can spread to more cells, and It can become increasingly difficult to control it.

A report in Ghana showed that the later you chose to get treatment, the more expensive the initial cost was. In addition, while ART is slightly expensive at the beginning, the cost of the treatment steadily declines over time.

Read More: HIV Symptoms

Does Treatment Have Any Side Effects?

HIV treatment is no easy task. Patients of the infection become dependent on medication for the rest of their lives. They have to be particularly cautious of taking each medicine at the prescribed time because missing a dosage can be detrimental.

The treatment also comes with a few side effects. However, because ART entails a customized treatment plan for each patient, the side effects also differ from individual to individual.

Some common side effects that you’re likely to experience are:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Feelings of Weakness
  • Abnormal Levels of Cholesterol
  • High Blood Sugar

How Do You Know If the Treatment Is Working?

Your level of the viral load will effectively depict if the medication is working. Your doctor will monitor both your viral load and CD4 T cell count once you begin treatment. Your viral load should be tested every 3-4 months, and your CD4 T cell count should be checked every 3-6 months.

Once your viral load reached undetectable levels, you can rest assured that the treatment has worked. However, it’s important to remember than an undetectable level of the virus does not mean you are cured. You still have the virus, and if you stop taking the medication, the virus will soon become detectable again.

Read More: HIV and AIDS Overview

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hiv-aids/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20373531

https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/understanding-hiv-aids/fact-sheets/21/51/hiv-treatment–the-basics#:~:targetText=Antiretroviral%20therapy%20(ART)%20is%20the%20use%20of%20HIV%20medicines%20to,HIV%20live%20longer%2C%20healthier%20lives.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5642329/

https://aidsfree.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/gh_guidelines_arv_therapy.pdf

error

Hi! Can you help us promote Ghana Medicals? Please spread the word :)