Category: Facts On HIV

Clinical Depression Increases Death Risk Of HIV-Infected Patients According To Psychologists

A study by psychologists emphasized the high depression rate among individuals living with HIV. According to them, 60 out of every 100 patients have clinical depression. Yes, sadness and grief are normal emotions whenever people find out that they have HIV. However, morphing this into a full-blown clinical depression is a serious story. It has turned into an epidemic that’s rapidly growing across genders and races. The illness affects the quality of life of the afflicted, and their whole world crashes and burns.

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Causes Of Clinical Depression In HIV Patients

There are various reasons why patients experience clinical depression. Contrary to popular belief, HIV infection does not necessarily translate to depression mainly because there are several “crisis points,” which a person with HIV can enter.

Some of these crisis points start with the initial HIV testing and diagnosis. Even if patients have not confirmed yet whether they are positive or not, they get paranoid and anxious. Some also do not pursue their testing because of the emotional crisis they are experiencing. Once these people know that they are HIV-infected, it adds to the burden they are carrying.

Another common crisis point is when these people are deciding whether to share this sensitive information to their family and friends. Keeping this information is another stress trigger for them. They feel that disclosing that they are HIV-positive will not only lead to disgust and judgment from other people but will also be a reason for their loved ones to abandon them.

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Other patients also feel more unstable whenever it is time for them to return to their regular lives. After finding out this big news, it is harder for them to make their way back to their routine – waking up in the morning, having breakfast, driving to work, having lunch with workmates, and driving by the road late at night. They feel more stressed out, knowing that it will never be the same for them after finding out their disorder.

Lastly, they get pressured whenever they are in the medical setting. Some crisis points in this environment include the introduction of new medication, presence of physical illness, recognition of depression symptoms, and hospitalization. The higher the exposure to these kinds of things, the higher the chance that they spiral into depression.

Symptoms

If you have been tested positive of HIV, make sure to go for medical visits regularly. Doing this is the best way to control the infection. Outside these physical examinations and treatments, you should also ask your doctor to conduct a mental health assessment. Make sure to choose a clinician who is comfortable with you as sometimes they hold back information so that they will not insult a patient.

Your doctors are not the only ones responsible for tracking your symptoms. You should also know the signs which can translate to depression.

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feeling of self-guilt
  • Unable to sleep well
  • Problems in sustaining attention and concentration
  • Loss of pleasure and interest
  • Substance abuse
  • Disturbance in psychomotor
  • Pessimistic attitude
  • Challenging behavior in the medical setting
  • Persistent agitation
  • Constant changes in fatigue and energy level
  • Lower sex drive
  • Feeling sluggish all day
  • Inability to make decisions related to HIV infection treatments

Higher Death Risk

According to experts, HIV is not the only reason why these people die. Clinical depression also has a significant role in why there is a higher death risk among them. A study by the HIV Medicine tested the link between HIV, clinical depression, and mortality.

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“Our findings reinforce the need to assess and treat depressive symptoms and major depressive disorder in patients with and without HIV infection to potentially reduce mortality risk,” shares co-author Kaku So-Armah, Ph.D., a Medicine assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine.

The data came from the study of 129,140 veterans in 13 years – from 2003 to 2015. According to the survey, among these veterans, 30 percent of them were affected by HIV. Out of these 30 percent, more than half receive a diagnosis of depression. From here, the researchers found out that there is a 23 percent increased risk of death for those who are HIV-positive as associated with their depressive symptoms.

Treatment

There are several ways to treat depression, even if you have HIV. For one, you have to attend your medical checkups. Make sure not to stop taking both your depression and HIV medications unless your doctors tell you too. There are also different types of therapies you can go to, such as traditional counseling, stress management, acupuncture, and massage.

Raising Awareness At The 2016 Los Angeles HIV/aids Surveillance Program

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The 2016 Los Angeles HIV/aids Surveillance Program successfully achieved its goal to raise more awareness about HIV/aids and the possibility of treatment. In the program, one of the speakers mentioned that in 2014, almost 50% of the one million Americans who were diagnosed with HIV experienced viral suppression, meaning that their virus was effectively managed. This is one of the primary goals of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because viral suppression greatly improves the lives of HIV patients and dramatically decreases their risk of contaminating others of their infection.

The speakers also emphasized the importance of campaigning and organizing events to empower Americans and people across the globe who are infected with HIV/aids to live hopefully and learn to open up in order to help others as well. Some activities that are simple yet effective include:

The Use Of Social Media. Using Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram are powerful ways of promoting awareness about many things. One can either create content and involve other netizens by providing a survey for them to answers. He may also want to include links in his post on topics about HIV/Aids.

Engaging The Community. If you’re a community leader, you can effectively help the young and old to know more about how to avoid HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases by holding symposiums and inviting speakers to talk about the importance of taking care of one’s sexual, physical, and mental health. As a member, you can also help by setting a good example to the youth and being diligent in following preventive measures during sexual intercourse with your spouse or partner.

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Distributing Promotional Supplies. Give a portion of your time for helping the community create cards, posters, and banner ads that can be found online for free. Distribute these to the community and the neighboring communities as well. There are big organizations who are willing and able to donate HIV/Aids campaign materials – all you have to do is search for them and communicate with them.

 

You, too, can make a difference in this world. Do your part now.

 

The 2016 Hawaii National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

There are a lot of things to get from the 2016 Hawaii National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. One of them is the prevention of a sexually transmitted disease. There are things that people should consider since the condition seems pretty rampant as of today.

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The Goal And Limitations

The awareness day aims to overcome some of the medical barriers by encouraging the natives to get tested. The promotion of receiving medical care is a way of reducing the toll of HIV/AIDS. The World Health Organization believes that the battle is not about the growing numbers of natives suffering from the disease. But preferably it is the knowledge of what safe sex should have to be. Since the condition already affects most of the youth, people should consider looking for preventions as well as solutions to the problem that targets a massive amount of people.

Source: wikimedia.org

Reducing The Risk

It is important to note that the protection for HIV requires steps. With this, couples who talk with each other about their conditions can significantly increase awareness. The act of indulging in less risky sexual intercourse should be given importance. These include using condoms and avoiding multiple sexual partners. That’s because the more partners a person has, the more likely he or she is prone to developing a transmitted disease. If in case there are already symptoms of the infection, never hesitate to seek out for help. Get tested and follow procedural treatments that can stop the diseases from becoming an autoimmune disorder. Always make time to understand the principles regarding the use of antiretroviral drugs, develop a healthy lifestyle, and schedule for regular checkups.

It is necessary that people should talk and consult a professional healthcare provider to understand the condition. It is not something to be disconcerted about and preferably not the best state to hide.

Development Of Aids From HIV

 

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Nowadays, a lot of people who are HIV positive have a longer lifespan compared to the past. Fortunately, having HIV does not mean you are going to die immediately. Many things can still be done so that the HIV-positive individual can live healthy and happy for years. But first, it is important that he remains positive and hopeful. It would be helpful if support from family and significant others is available to help him cope with his anxiety, stress, and emotional needs.

An individual who finds out that he is HIV positive will initially feel angry, guilty, shocked, and scared. These are normal emotions, but they should not persist for a long time. The individual must be able to overcome these emotions and learn to strengthen himself so he can face his daily challenges.

For the HIV-positive individual and his family members, it is important that they know the progression of HIV from infection to being sick with AIDS and eventually will lead to death. There are six stages that compose this process.

 

Primary HIV Infection

Also known as Acute primary infection, this stage begins with the person being infected with HIV until the immune system works hard to produce antibodies to help combat the virus in the body, which usually occurs between four and eight weeks. It can also last up to 12 weeks. During this window period, the individual is very contagious. The virus is replicating fast, but the damage is not visible on the outside. For some, they may manifest with flu-like symptoms, which include:

  • Fever, sore throat, and headache
  • Swollen lymph nodes on the inguinal and neck areas
  • Muscle and joint pain sometimes accompanied by rashes in the skin

These symptoms appear quickly and are frequently mistaken as just the simple flu or cold.

 

The Silent Stage

The affected individual experiences perfect health, as if he doesn’t have an illness. It is often called the silent stage since during this time the person doesn’t show to be active. However, on the inside, it is continually attacking the immune system.

 

Minor Stage

During this phase, there are minimal complications that are starting to show because the targeted immune system is slowly weakened. The lymph nodes may not be swollen initially, but at this stage, it will be visible and will persist to be swollen for quite some time, about three months or more. Signs and symptoms that may appear at this phase include:

  • Persistent fever and cold sweats
  • Decreased energy and appetite, which leads to weight loss
  • Vaginal and mouth thrush infections
  • Repeated throat infections and mouth ulcers

 

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Symptomatic Stage

Five to eight years from the onset of the infection, the immune system is markedly damaged, and it finds defending the body more difficult to do. At the same time, the virus is continuously increasing and spreading throughout the body. The symptoms seen at this stage have already become severe. These include:

  • Continuous fever, cold sores, and blisters
  • Repeated vaginal and oral thrush (Candida albicans)
  • Chronic bacterial infections and skin rashes
  • Obvious weight loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes

 

Full Blown AIDS

It is at this stage where anything infectious can practically attack the individual’s body. These infections practically infest the body and take advantage of the already weak immune system. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Skin rashes
  • Unexplained chest pains and coughing due to pneumonia and tuberculosis
  • Rapid weight loss, weakness, and fatigue
  • Chronic diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • Severe headaches and convulsions due to brain infections
  • Reduced ability to focus
  • Significant memory loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes, spleen, and liver
  • Blindness

 

AIDS is the progressive stage of HIV infection. It is usually declared as AIDS when an individual’s CD4 cells fall below 200. Additionally, one is also diagnosed with AIDS if he has a defining illness, such as pneumonia or lung disease and Kaposi’s sarcoma and other skin cancers.

 

Terminal Stage

Within a window of six months to three years from the development of full-blown AIDS, death typically occurs. Individuals who are living with AIDS undergo periods of being very ill, alternating with periods of being healthy. It would be uncommon to hear about someone ‘dying of AIDS.’ Technically, that is not true. A majority of these individuals suffer from different diseases caused by the proliferation of opportunistic infections, which ultimately lead to the individual’s death.

 

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People who know they have AIDS but still don’t take medications mostly only last about three years or less, particularly if they acquired a deadly infection. However, if one is hopeful and is consistently taking his medications and is living a healthy life, he can very possibly live a long, long time.

 

 

 

 

The Three Stages Of HIV Infection

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Once you have been infected with HIV, it is imperative that you receive treatment. The medication used for HIV is called the antiretroviral therapy or ART. It helps in slowing down or preventing the progression of the infection from stage one to two to three, given of course that it is taken properly. It also helps in reducing the risk of spreading the virus.

Continue reading “The Three Stages Of HIV Infection”

Things To Remember About Dating If You’re HIV Positive

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Trying to find someone who can be the love of your life, the center of your universe, is not easy for everyone. It is rare to meet that person the first time you go on a date. Typically, many prospects are available, but you need to weed through them all to realize which ones have real intentions to know you and be with you and not merely try to get in your pants.

The challenge of dating tends to increase by a hundredfold, however, if you are carrying human immunodeficiency virus. Considering it is a viral infection that may react well with medication when diagnosed in its early stages, people should not be afraid of going out with you. Unfortunately, no matter how welcoming the world seems for folks living with HIV, the stigma that the disease came with remains intact in the heart and mind of many.

 

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If you genuinely want to end your singlehood and find the one for you, you should remember these things:

 

  1. Don’t Expect Anything On The First Date

The primary aspect to evoke in your system is that you should not hold your hopes too high the first time you talk to a prospective life partner. You may have only spoken about each other’s likes and dislikes, for instance, yet in your brain, you may already be imagining the two of you growing old together and watching your grandkids play. To avoid getting hurt, take control of your emotions and let the events unfold without expectations.

  1. Not Everyone Will Understand, And That’s Okay

Another fact that you ought to not forget is that the number of non-judgmental fellows is growing, but the folks who may frown upon your condition or try to make you feel ashamed of wanting to date despite your situation are still out there too. You can consider yourself lucky if you can meet the former; regardless if you end up together or not, you won’t feel discriminated. Nonetheless, even when you come across the latter type, you should not let whatever they might say affect your mental state because they are undoubtedly speaking with a lack of knowledge about your condition. It is better to move on from that and look for someone else.

 

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  1. Meet Someone Once You’ve Accepted Your Diagnosis

You should also understand your dating experience can become affected by the way you perceive your case. For example, if you go on a date while hating the reality that you are HIV positive, that emotion may roll off to the person you’ll meet and cause him or her to hate it too. This circumstance can then devastate you, to the point that you believe that no one will appreciate you due to the infection.

However, if you go out with someone when you are already at peace with your condition, chances are, you can care less if he or she rejects you. You know yourself; you are aware of what you can and cannot do because of the human immunodeficiency virus. Assuming those folks refuse to accept you, flaws and all, that is no longer your problem.

You Are Worthy Of Affection

The truth that people who are HIV positive should keep in mind is that rejection is not only common for individuals who have the infection. Even the healthiest folks on the planet tend to fail at meeting someone who wants to take them for who they are as well. That is part of the selection process, and you should be thankful to get away early from men or women who might not support you in dire situations. So, don’t ever think that you are less worthy of affection than anyone.

What Causes Depression Among People With AIDS?

It is unimaginable for most people how mentally challenging it is to accept that you have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). One source (who shall not be named) divulged that he thought that once the medication for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was completed, there would be no chance for the illness to develop into AIDS. When the man’s fear came to reality, he felt so helpless and hopeless in the next months that going out in public or meeting friends became impossible for him.

 

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The thing is, reactions like the one above is no longer rare. AIDS is incurable like cancer, diabetes, and other diseases, and that is disheartening enough. What makes patients with this illness spiral faster down the depression lane than anyone, though, are the harsh facts that:

  1. Some Acquired It Through Violence

Getting raped is already a traumatizing experience that the victim might have to deal with forever. If the sexual abuse further results to him or her becoming infected with a sexually transmitted disease, the emotional and mental stress that the person carries can cause him or her to question many things in life. If nobody lends a hand or gives this individual an idea to receive counseling, he or she may feel as if there is no longer hope for him or her to live normally.

 

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  1. People Think They Should Isolate Themselves

Even though AIDS is an illness that gets transferred to someone through vaginal or anal intercourse, some patients tend to feel shame and assume that their loved ones are better off without seeing them in person. They never go out unless their food supplies run out; they prefer to speak with others via phone instead of in person, in fear of transmitting the disease accidentally. However, the more isolated you allow yourself to be in this situation, the more the negative ideas will run in your head until a mental disorder takes over.

  1. A Few Drugs Have Depression As A Side Effect

The reality is that there may be victims of AIDS who had developed depression even when they only had HIV. Several studies show, after all, that there is a particular drug known as Efavirenz that has this psychological illness as one of its side effects. Doctors typically prescribe it along with other HIV medications. Hence, if the depressive thoughts are already in place before the AIDS diagnosis, the symptoms of depression are more likely to progress than not in the worst way possible.

  1. Their Life May Never Be Normal Afterward

Assuming a specialist confirms that a 25-year-old patient has AIDS, dealing and living with this truth may be harder for him or her compared to someone who acquires it during their 50s or 60s. Whereas the latter has perhaps fulfilled most of the activities in their entire bucket list, the former may merely be starting to get to it. The dream of experiencing a happily-ever-after might seem bleak in their mind as well, thinking that nobody will ever want to date a man or woman with AIDS. Not to mention, even if it is only a one-night stand, they tend to feel too ashamed to talk about it, and so they end up not meeting anyone.

 

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In Conclusion

Depression is indeed common among people who get diagnosed with AIDS. No one can blame them for becoming helpless in such a situation wherein finding a cure for a specific disease is next to impossible. At times, the drugs and the people they mingle with may be aggravating the mental disorder as well.

In case you know an AIDS patient, you should offer that individual your full support or even an ear to listen to their woes. Beyond financial assistance, remember that these folks can benefit from the emotional or mental aid that you can provide. That – and not money – can lead them away from depression.

How To Live Normally For An HIV/AIDS Victim

Among all the incurable diseases out there, HIV/AIDS is perhaps the hardest to live with for anyone. Some might say that unlike mental disorder, the illness does not require the patient to see a psychiatrist often or keep the person stuck in their head for hours. Unlike autoimmune disease, you won’t need to see multiple doctors your entire life and deal with the failure of many body parts due to it.

While both reasonings are valid, the mere fact that HIV/AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease makes it look more extreme than any other illness. After all, there may be people who have no criticism in their bones, but there happen to be some members of the community as well who might be verbal about condemning the infected victims. The others who don’t speak yet don’t make contact either are possibly judging the patients internally too or are afraid of contracting the virus if they get in close proximity.

 

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 We know that merely telling you to pay no one any mind is not enough to help you feel stronger to manage your thoughts in such situations. In case you want an idea of how to live normally despite having HIV/AIDS, though, you can take note of the following:

 

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  1. Remember That Blaming Yourself Or Others Won’t Help

When a doctor confirms that you have a sexually transmitted illness, you might either blame yourself for being promiscuous or blame the partner who infected you. You get mad; you want to yell or curse at everybody. It is as if your head is only filled with hateful thoughts.

Regardless of how you got the disease, you should know that starting the blaming game will not do anything. If the specialists can’t find a cure for you, so can’t the person who transferred the virus to you. It will help you more to learn to accept the illness instead.

  1. Know The Things You Cannot Do

Since HIV/AIDS mainly affects your immune system, there are perhaps a plethora of activities that you may be unable to do. For instance, you are not supposed to go to public places much without a mask to cover your nose and mouth because of the other viruses and bacteria you might catch there. If the disease targets your nerves, you cannot be physically active as well, to the extent that even driving an automatic vehicle may be problematic.

Instead of complaining about it, you ought to understand everything that can promote the progression of HIV/AIDS. That is more important than focusing on activities you can do.

  1. Stop Thinking That You Will Die Soon

Perhaps because practically half of the known victims of the sexually transmitted disease worldwide ended up dying, many individuals who have contracted the virus not too long ago may be thinking that they don’t need to try to live since the illness will kill them anyway. The truth, however, is that there are already drugs that may eliminate the viral infection in its early stages or slow down its development. That is more acceptable than having no treatment at all, albeit a long-term cure is nowhere in sight.

 

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In Conclusion

HIV/AIDS is a tough adversary not only because it is incurable but also because you have to deal with the stigma once you get diagnosed with it. Nevertheless, other people are living with diseases that the medical world cannot heal either. If a person with diabetes, a cancer patient, or someone with autoimmunity can find some normalcy in their life, you should be able to do the same.

Learn to face your new reality and don’t let the narrow-minded folks get to you. You are fantastic with or without illness. Cheer up!

Ways To Ease The Burden That Your HIV-Positive Friend Feels

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If a close friend calls you one day and divulges while crying that he or she got diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), there may be too many thoughts that will cross your mind. First, you may want to know how it happened, but you might realize at once that it may not be something that the person can discuss right now quickly. You may then ask about who else is aware of the disease or if his or her family members have already heard of the news. Overall, however, you tend to think about how you can help your friend get through this ordeal without falling into depression.

Well, there are no exact steps to assist someone in coping with a sexually transmitted disease. But you are welcome to try by:

  1. Knowing The Best Words To Say Around Him Or Her

As mentioned earlier, there are some questions better left unspoken in front of an individual who lives with an illness like an HIV infection. For instance, instead of asking your friend why he or she forgot to use condoms, you should empathize with him or her and talk about how terrible it must have been to hear about it from the specialist. Rather than downplaying the severity of the problem in hopes of making the person feel better, you ought to show more sensitivity than that and offer help in any way possible.

Source: flickr.com
  1. Understanding The Symptoms Of HIV

Human immunodeficiency virus is no longer a hush-hush topic; that’s why there’s a high chance that you are already aware that it targets the immune system of whoever gets infected by it. Despite that, the number of symptoms that this sexually transmitted disease does not end with the individual catching colds and cough more than others. He or she may also experience extreme fatigue and fever, considering his or her antibodies are working day and night to fight the virus. Additionally, the infection may escalate and affect the bones and muscles, and so body pain is quite common.

You should know such signs of HIV early so that you have an inkling of what’s happening to your associate, no thanks to his or her illness.

  1. Protecting The Person Against Judgmental Folks

The news about your friend contracting a sexually transmitted disease cannot possibly remain as a secret forever. He or she may have mentioned it to a colleague at work who seemed to be trustworthy in the beginning. Later, however, it might turn out that that fellow gossiped about it to other co-employees who are now looking at the HIV-positive person with malice and disgust.

One thing you can do if the diagnosis leaks out is to make it clear to everyone around you that no one has a right to judge your friend. Many tend to stay mum about it and wait till the issue dies down, but you have to remember that it will merely let others believe that what they are doing is okay.

  1. Offering Realistic Support

It is also critical for a true friend not only to tell an ill person that you are always available if they need you. You genuinely have to offer practical support by calling every day to know whether you can get any supply for them or they require company for the doctor’s appointment. This way, they can tell that you are not merely saying it – that you are indeed willing to do anything to help them.

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To Sum Things Up

An HIV diagnosis can be unimaginable for everyone. Your friend perhaps trusted the man or woman who infected him or her with it. He or she may have solely wanted to have fun as well when it happened. The thing is, participating in the blaming game won’t alter the damage now. You should focus on helping the patient feel better instead to ease his or her burden.