Global Efforts to Eradicate HIV

Category: Facts On HIV

Protecting Your Mental Health While Living With AIDS

Almost half a century has passed since its first known case, yet some people still have HIV and AIDS prejudices. These judgments are very harmful to you and the community of AIDS patients. Reckless remarks can progress to bullying and discrimination, affecting your self-worth and overall mental health.


Before learning about protecting your mental health while living with AIDS, let’s talk about stigma and discrimination.



HIV Stigma And Discrimination


HIV stigma and discrimination is more than just verbal and physical abuse directed to patients with AIDS. It sometimes even escalates to depriving HIV patients of their government rights, healthcare needs, and employment opportunities.


This stigma is often directed to patients who are sex workers, drug users, or men who have sex with men (MSM). 


Studies show how half of HIV patients from 35% of the countries worldwide have experienced discrimination. Because of the stigma and discrimination, some people are afraid of seeking a diagnosis, let alone receive treatment. This stigma thus affects AIDS patients’ physical, emotional, and mental well-being.


So what can you, a person with HIV, do to protect your mental health?


  • Learn About Your Condition


The first step to protecting your mental health is by learning about your conditions. Statistics show there are 8 out of 10 HIV patients who develop an internalized HIV stigma. This thinking leads to a dangerous path, where patients self-isolate and sulk in depressive and anxious thoughts.



Another way to learn more about your condition is by knowing your rights. Learn about the services you can and should receive. If an employer denies you of a job or a doctor refuses you healthcare, bring up your rights.


Remember, your value as a person does not diminish with an HIV diagnosis. You deserve products and services just like everyone else.


Educating yourself will also help you know your worth. Some patients fall into a rabbit hole of depression after diagnosis. Your self-esteem may depreciate, and you may even blame yourself for your sickness. But you should know about the facts to lift your spirits somehow.


  • Educate People About Your Condition


Once you know the fast facts of AIDS, you can then educate other people. Often, HIV stigma comes from people who are misinformed about the illness.


Some think they can contract HIV with minimal interaction—like hugging, kissing, or simply being in the same room—with infected people. This belief is entirely wrong.


Since AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease, you can only acquire it from sexual intercourse and not simple physical contact. You should also inform people of the other causes of HIV.


You’d be surprised to know how many people don’t know about HIV transmission through needle or blood transfusion. Blood transfusions have a higher risk compared to other factors.


Sometimes, HIV stigma can also arise from preexisting gender discrimination. Try to remind these prejudiced people of the other HIV risks. Same needle use and blood transfusions are even more of a threat than your sexuality.


Besides, there should be no issue at all with gender and sexual orientation. In this political climate, there’s no space left for discrimination and gender inequalities.


  • Surround Yourself With A Loving Community


However, not everyone is born into an accepting and open-minded family. And sometimes, no matter how much you try to educate the people you love, they still won’t accept you fully. It is a sad reality, but it is also a situation we must recognize.


If ever this happens, you would be better off with a loving community. Ask your doctor if they know about any support groups for AIDS patients. They will be able to offer you the support you need as you undergo treatment.


These support groups can also give you tips on living a good life even with AIDS.



Some people may feel shy at first and will instead join online forums anonymously. You can also do this. You control your time, and only you can determine when you’ll be ready to share with people about your condition. 


  • Build Good Mental Health Habits


However, it is best to regulate your dependence on other people since it may also be detrimental if in excess. If you haven’t had the resources to build healthy habits before, now would be a perfect time.


Start being more mindful of your actions, thoughts, and emotions. You can start a journal to monitor your feelings as well as your symptoms and progress.


Once you become more aware of yourself and how your brain processes events, you can take better control of everything else. You can improve your mood and enhance your overall cognitive abilities.



What’s important is you continue building yourself up. Learn new things about yourself or your condition every day. You can take small steps, and it would still be fine. The important thing is, you are progressing to become a better you despite living with an illness.


If you have trouble trying to be mentally healthy, seek the help of professionals. Psychologists and doctors may help you with behavioral therapies. Life coaches, therapists, and counselors can also provide you with proper strategies to improve your general quality of life.


AIDS is just another treatable disease but only made worse by discrimination and negative stigma. So before the negativity reaches your mental health, take the necessary steps to protect it.


Educate yourself and the people close to you with HIV and AIDS facts. You should also have a healthy balance between community-dependence and self-reliance. And if you need professional help, don’t be scared to seek psychologists or therapists. 

Gaining Family Support After HIV Diagnosis

Have you ever woken up and realized that everything you held close to your heart started to slip away from your fingers? That was how I felt when my family found out that I was HIV positive.


The Backstory

Here is a little backstory about me. I am the eldest of four children. Being a first-born, my parents expected me to be practically perfect. They said that it was the only way for me to become a positive example to my younger siblings. Although they had an old-fashioned view of the world, I valued their opinion so much, so I did everything they said that I should do.

For instance, in high school, I wanted to study at a public school because all my friends were there. But Mom said, “No way! You are going to St. Mary’s All-Girls School,” and I did not get another peep. When I asked if I could go to UCLA because they had an excellent science program, Dad said, “No, you will study at NYU. It’s closer to home.” Again, I did not protest. In my mind, being an obedient child was good.


But then, once I started going to college, I became friends with the wrong crowd. Before the first semester ended, I knew how to smoke weed, drink, and party as if tomorrow would never come. Of course, I had a string of hookups, too. The nuns at my old school would freak out and probably say that demons possessed me if they learned how many guys I slept with.

I did not mean to lie, but it ended up that way. When they thought I was with my study group, I was actually at a bar with my fake ID, flirting or making out with some hot guy. Sometimes, we would go to the guy’s place. Other times, we could only reach the bathroom inside the bar. Yes, I was super wild.


When The Diagnosis Came

When the diagnosis came, I was barely out of college. I applied for a job at my father’s company, and they required a full-body examination to ensure that everyone was fit to work. I stopped smoking weed two years before that, so I thought all my results would be squeaky clean. However, I did not stop hooking up with different guys now and then. Hence, once the doctor tested me for HIV, I turned out to be positive.

The first person who saw the result was my father. I asked him to bring it home since I would be coming over for dinner on that day. I was even excited to go there because Mom cooked my favorite foods. But when I opened the front door, a hard slap on the face greeted me.

I wanted to get angry because I felt wrong, but I could not say anything anymore when my dad shoved the paper in my hands. If only the ground could swallow me in that instant, I would have preferred it instead of meeting my family’s accusing gaze. My parents did not ask the specifics and made me leave, and I did. However, I regretted not begging them to interrogate me because it felt like they already disowned me.


Gaining Family Support After HIV Diagnosis

It took me some time to get over the shock. Although I wanted to smack whoever transmitted the disease to me, I did not have any way to reach them, considering they were are one-night stands. I went to the doctor to figure out what I should do, and I could not help but cry when it sunk in that I had a sexually transmitted disease.

Who would have thought that a Catholic school girl like me would ever get HIV at a young age?

As ashamed as I was, I called my mom to ask for forgiveness. She was super tight-lipped at first, but when she heard me cry, she voiced her sentiments. She said, “How could you do this to us? We thought you were our smartest child. You failed us so hard.”

I wailed again through the phone, and Mom invited me to come over and talk to Dad. I felt scared to do it, but I had no other choice. I made the bed, so I had to lie on it now. I thought that whatever they would tell me, I would accept it because it was my fault.


The conversation went better than I imagined. My parents calmed down after telling them everything that happened to me in the past years, and they expressed their disappointment. Then, they made me move back home so that they could take care of me. The doctor said that I would have to be under medication for a few months, and they did not want me to be alone in my condo.

I knew that part of the reason was that they wanted to make sure that I stopped my promiscuous habits, but that’s okay. As long as I gained my family’s support, I would not do anything stupid again.

Questions From The HIV Patient About COVID-19




Even though the threat of severe illness from COVID-19 for individuals with Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is unclear, these individuals have questions and worries that are associated with their risk. This pandemic is a developing and a quickly advancing situation, and the Center for Disease Control will provide credible details, as it becomes 0btainable.

Do individuals with HIV like me have a higher likelihood of getting infected with the coronavirus?

As of now, there is no precise information about the risk of getting infected with the virus in HIV-positive people. The older adults and those of any age level with preexisting conditions most probably have a higher risk of a serious disease, including those who are immunocompromised. The risk for HIV-positive individuals like you of getting very sick is highest in HIV patients who are not undergoing treatment and those with a decreased CD4 cell count.

You can also be at risk of getting infected seriously with COVID-19 depending on your medical condition and how old you are.

What Can I possibly do to protect myself from COVID-19?

At present, there is no cure to prevent or cure COVID-19, but the best solution to help prevent sickness is to keep yourself from getting exposed to the virus. People like you who are HIV-positive should take the necessary preventive measures, such as proper hygiene and social distancing, among others, so that you can be sure that you are not going to be contaminated. You should also remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating healthily, getting sufficient sleep, and finding ways to reduce your stress levels. Doing this strengthens your immune system to help you fight off the infection if you catch it.


If you are taking your medicines for HIV, you must proceed with your treatment and follow the recommendations of your doctor. This is key to keeping your immune system as healthy as it can be.

What must I do if I think that I am infected?

Contact your doctor immediately if you notice symptoms that are consistent with the disease. Ask him how you can avoid possibly passing the virus down to others. Also, learn more about COVID-19 by talking to a healthcare professional or by reading about it online.

Almost 50% of individuals in America who are diagnosed with HIV are 50 years old and above. These people also have higher percentages of specific underlying illnesses. Both of these factors can further increase your risk for acquiring more serious conditions if you get infected with the coronavirus, particularly if you HIV is advanced.

Here are some suggestions that people like you can do to prepare besides the usual recommendations given to the public.

  • Make sure that you have prepared medications for at least 30 days’ supply.
  • Consult your healthcare provider and be updated about the number of vaccinations that you have had, including seasonal flu vaccines and those for bacterial pneumonia. These vaccines may affect people with HIV like you.
  • Create a plan for medical care if you need to stay home for two weeks or more if necessary. Try connecting to your doctor online via telemedicine. There are HIV websites that you can turn to that are of great help to you in terms of information. If this is not possible, try communicating with your provider by calling or texting him.
  • When you have HIV, sometimes you are likely to need help more than the others, so receive that help from family, friends, and your community if it is given to you.


Can my HIV medicines be used to treat me if I am infected with COVID-19?

Some forms of HIV medications, like lopinavir-ritonavir, are evaluated for treating COVID-19. Outcomes from a clinical trial in China revealed that this medication did not decrease the number of viruses multiplying in patients admitted for COVID-19 and some type of respiratory illness. Until more information is gathered about the effects of HIV medications on the treatment of coronavirus, individuals like you should not make any changes to your prescribed medications to try and prevent or cure COVID-19.





Best AIDS-Related Movies To Watch While You’re Quarantined




The recent upsurge of Novel Coronavirus has induced so much fear and anxiety among people living with AIDS. They are among those who belong to the group with existing illnesses that are most vulnerable to infection, particularly to this devastating virus surrounding the whole world today. They are strongly advised to stay at home – no matter how young or old they are – to stay healthy and safe.

With all the negative emotions going on in their hearts and minds right now, it is only right that we offer them this article dedicated solely to them – the best inspirational AIDS-related movies that will keep their hopes up while they’re quarantined at home.

Angels In America

A lot of the early films about AIDS did not usually put so much art in them. They were raw and bravely done to portray the real stories of the failure of the government and humanity as well. This was one of those films produced in 2003. An Emmy Award miniseries category winner, Angels in America, successfully depicted the AIDS epidemic with powerful scenes, adding historical characters and an inspiring script that has captured so much positive audience response, even from those who knew very little about the disease.


How To Survive A Plague

This extensive documentary film was nominated and praised worldwide when it was released in 2012. It provided a clear explanation and portrayal of AIDS during those times that people claimed it was the film to beat because others were not successful in their attempts to clarify the misconceptions that people had about the disease. In addition, because of this documentary, filmmakers in the United States decided to form groups such as the AIDS Activist Movement and the ACT UP, which encouraged people with AIDS to stand up and show the world what they can do despite their illness. This is a must-see.


This film, which stars the talented and reputable Tom Hanks, is probably in everyone’s top ten inspiring movies of all time. It practically changed the way AIDS was pictured – with rage, fear, judgment, and insensitivity. This is one of Hanks’ most powerful portrayals, and it impacted the world in 1994, as it was obvious with how it made in the movie industry – a whopping $200 plus two Academy awards. The stigma that was shown in the movie hit some strings among the majority of people who knew in their hearts that they were guilty of discriminating AIDS victims from society. Denzel Washington explaining to his wife about homophobia in the movie, also made such an impact. Philadelphia is heart-wrenching and inspiring in so many ways.

An Early Frost

This is a television movie that was broadcasted in 1985 by NBC. It became so popular because it was the first film to expose the AIDS crisis in the United States. An Early Frost revolves around a young lawyer who was diagnosed with AIDS and decided to tell his parents about it. At the time when prejudice and stigma were extreme in America, its television audience reached more than 30 million. It successfully encouraged more public awareness of AIDS and HIV with its thoughtful and dramatic portrayals.


The Normal Heart

This HBO produced movie is an excellent complement to the 2012 movie How to Survive a Plague in its thorough exposure of the AIDS crisis and the creation of activist groups. The Normal Heart is based on the play that was created by Larry Kramer, the ACT UP founder. The movie relived the rage and the urgency that hit the strings of the audience on stage. The conversations felt as if they were done by an individual who completely understood and carried with him the burden of the AIDS crisis during the 80s. When you’re done watching this, you might as well follow it up with Larry Kramer in Love and Anger.



Dietary Tips For HIV/AIDS Patients


Having HIV/AIDS entails that there is now a virus in your system that will practically never go away. Your body will be battling it every day, even though there is no chance of winning against the disease. Still, you should stop eating fast foods and make healthy dishes to boost your immune system to give HIV/AIDS a great fight.

Not knowing what to cook and not having the time to prepare are very lame excuses for eating unhealthy stuff. If you have time to get your hair and nails done in the salon, if you have time to go to a bar with your friends after a day of work, then you surely can find the time to prepare healthy meals for yourself. As for what you can cook, you can go to any search engine to look for recipes. 


Of course, salads should always be a part of your day, and you can change it up by adding fruits and vegetables so that your palate will always have a new taste to experience. Salads are great because they give you energy while helping you stay fit. Lots of doctors suggest having this food every day. You can also bake, steam, or grill your vegetables and some white meat. 

How To Embrace Healthy Eating 

The reason why a lot of people do not eat healthy stuff is that they become overwhelmed by the common belief that anything healthy tastes bland. The truth is, they can be as tasty as regular foods. If you are a fan of steak, bacon, and other meat products, you can always add them to your vegetarian dish, but only have them grilled. If you want eggs, only add egg whites. If you want chicken, boil or bake it. You cannot have white rice, white bread, or any forms of sweets all the time because they increase your carb content, but you can have brown rice, whole wheat bread, and brown sugar. Remember that you do not have to limit yourself with dull food; there is a healthy alternative for everything you eat.

Dietary Tips 

  • Choose ingredients that are free from fats, cholesterol, and sugar.
  • Do not use a lot of oil.
  • If you wish to fry something, use olive oil.
  • Always cook white meat instead of red meat.
  • Some dairy products like butter and cheese can make you fat.
  • Hotdogs and other processed foods are not suitable for your diet.
  • Say no to junk foods.
  • Stir-fry or grill your vegetables instead of frying them.



Final Thoughts

The things mentioned above are just some of the basic ideas that you should know. There are many more, and you need to search for them on the internet. You also have to find the time to learn how to cook meals in a less fattening and healthier way. Just a rule of thumb, for your dish to be considered healthy, there should be more vegetarian items there than non-vegetarian ones. Always have fresh fruits and vegetables in your fridge, eat them whenever you get hungry, and you will be surprised by the difference that it will make on your weight and overall well-being after several weeks. 

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.


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.

“It is important for practitioners treating HIV-infected individuals to be aware of the high likelihood of co-morbid mental health conditions, have a basic understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions, and be prepared to partner with mental health professionals in the treatment of affected individuals,” writes David J. Moore, PhD, and Carolina Posada, BA.

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.

“Rejected LGB youth were 8.4 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to have risky sex,” writes Perry N. Halkitis, PhD, MS.


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.

“These studies showed that people with HIV preferred to hide their HIV identity as they thought that it impeded their progress towards returning to a ‘normal’ life,” Esther C. L. Goh, PhD, finds.

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.


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.


“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.


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. For instance, you can try to undergo online counseling through apps such as BetterHelp. Through online counseling, you will be able to confide and ease the burden in your mind with the help of a licensed professional.

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


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. “The use of social media websites as research tools can bring new insight and possibly enhance understanding of how health-related communities meet different needs,” Samy A. Azer, MD, PhD, says.

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. According to Fátima Coronado, MD, MPH and co-authors, “To keep pace with emerging public health challenges, government public health workers, including health educators, increasingly require more strategic skills that address the social, community-based, and economic determinants of health.”


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. ” Correct and consistent condom use would likely have prevented nearly all new HIV infections in the US last year. It thus remains imperative to develop and implement strategies for increasing condom use in the US. One strategy for increasing condom use is condom distribution,” Mohsen Malekinejad, MD explains. 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.


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.

“Regular HIV testing is an important way to protect your health and the health of your sexual partners,” writes Brian Mustanski Ph.D.

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.

“It may seem obvious that practicing sex safe requires open communication. Still, the more difficult question is how to overcome your reluctance—as well as that of your partner—to talk about sexual issues. To work through your awkward feelings, you’ll have to practice what you want to say until you can deliver your lines calmly and coherently,” writes David Ludden Ph.D.


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.

“HIV/AIDS and any other chronic medical condition can often lead to severe mental health disorders and therefore treating these disorders as if they were co-occurring disorders may benefit the individual in the long haul,” writes Kristen Fuller, M.D.

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




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




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.




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.