(Primary Health Care)
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
It is an infectious disease that is spread by a
virus. It is called a ‘syndrome’ because it
consists of several sings and symptoms. In many
African countries it is now the major cause of
Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is what is known as a
retrovirus. Little is known about its origin or the
ways in which it can be cured.
The virus enters the T-helper
cells of the immune system. It then destroys genetic
material within the T-helper cells. The damage it
causes is PERMANENT. All body fluids contain
t-helper cells but the highest concentration can be
found in blood, semen and vaginal secretion.
Who can carry the virus?
Anyone with virus can infect someone else. It is
common for a carrier to not know that they are
infected with the virus. Carriers may have no
obvious signs that they are carriers. A person can
be a carrier for many years before they fall ill.
So, it’s is really the responsibility of
individuals to be aware that Aids/HIV can strike
A few months after someone has
contracted HIV their body begins to produce
antibodies to the virus. These anti bodies can be
detected by a special test. In most countries at
least one hospital can offer this test. Anyone who
thinks they may have been in contact with a carrier
should have the test as soon as possible.
How might you have come into contact with a carrier?
HIV is spread when blood, semen
or vaginal secretion of an infected person comes in
contact with the blood or mucous membranes of a
healthy person. The virus is spread by:
sexual intercourse between two people
of the same or opposite sex, when one of the
partners is infected
by transfusion of infected blood
by infected needles used by drug users
who inject themselves with a substance
by an infected mother to her unborn
When can you NOT catch HIV/Aids
The virus is NOT spread by:
using some else’s plates or cups
eating the same food as a carrier
drinking the same water as a carrier
How to prevent the spread of aids
There is no vaccine against
Aids and, as yet no medicine to stop its spread
within a person. Some multi-drug combinations do
exist but they are (a) expensive and (b) only a
slowing down agent, they do not cure a sufferer. So,
your life style is the way in which you can prevent
the spread of aids!
The desire for sexual activity is a normal part
of human behaviour. Many young people now feel
pressure from their peers to begin experimenting
with sexual activity at a young age. It is quite
common for a young girl to be menstruating in her
early teenage years and then she is able to
reproduce. Similarly, a young boy can mature into a
sexually mature male in his early teenage years. It
is the pressure to experiment with these new
feelings and abilities that can lead young people
into very dangerous situations. The risk of catching
aids increases as a young person sleeps with more
partners. To them it may seem exciting but the risks
are high. To be safe a young person who is sexually
active should (a) use a condom and (b) have one
faithful sexual partner.