HIV / AIDS Education and Support
HIV/AIDS affects us all. Ultimately we all encounter the health, financial and social implications. Our health is in our hands!
HIV In brief:
Approximately 5.5 million South Africans are infected with the virus and are therefore directly impacted. The prevalence is approx. 19% amongst adult South Africans (aged between 15-49 years). Approx. 1000 South Africans die daily from AIDS related illnesses. (www.tac.org.za/community/keystatistics ) These are alarming figures that impact communities, families and individuals on a daily basis and yet individuals still display high levels of risk taking practices. HIV is real! At present, it cannot be cured. However, it can be managed quite effectively and individuals can live healthy, productive lives with appropriate care. In the spirit of respecting the rights of all individuals and appreciating differences which exist in our society; CCDU encourages the support of all individuals whether HIV positive or not. We strongly encourage HIV testing, early treatment and the embracing of differences and we equally discourage any form of discrimination and prejudice.
Can get HIV:
- Unprotected Sexual intercourse (anal and vaginal) with a partner whose HIV status is unknown to you.
- Practicing unsafe sexual practices with multiple and concurrent sexual partners.
- contact with someone else's blood
- From and infected mother to her child. It is therefore important to test for HIV early in pregnancy and to manage this well, by considering Caesarian section birth, taking ARV's whilst pregnant and looking at feeding of the child.
- mixing formula and breast milk when feeding an infant.
Cannot get HIV:
- Social contact, like, hugging, shaking hands, kissing on the cheek/lip, etc
- Mosquito and other insect bites.
- Coughing and sneezing
- Using the same utensils; cups, plates, etc. as an infected person
South Africa subscribes to the ABC model of prevention; which is widely known:
A: Abstain from sexual intercourse
B: Be faithful to the partner that you are with
C: Condoms should be use if you are having sex with a partner whose HIV status is unknown to you.
D: this is an unconventional thought in the prevention model, but one that does exist and is practical. It is for the DIY enthusiast; DO IT YOURSELF with reference to self masturbation.
If you were given the choice of contracting HIV or not, what would it be?
Condoms are very safe in preventing HIV, they are freely available, therefore the choice to use them remains yours. Condoms could also prevent contraction of most STI?s and unplanned pregnancy. Condoms are part of responsible and safer sex. The use of them should therefore be discussed and encouraged in a sexual relationship
Are condoms safe?
The freely distributed ?Choice? condoms are as safe as any other brands that can be bought at any pharmacy. Condoms are only as safe as the way in which they are used. Manufacturing flaws do occur but are extremely rare.
Why do condoms Burst?
Condoms can burst for any of the following reasons:
- Using oil based lubricants like, baby oil or lotions. Waterbased lubricants like KY jelly or glycerine are recommended.
- Using more that one condoms; either 2 male condom or a male and a female condom simultaneously.
- Fractures and tears that could have resulted from putting on the condom incorrectly, tearing of the condom by using teeth or sharp nails to open the wrapping or by storing the condom incorrectly.
- Leaving air inside the condom whilst rolling it onto the penis.
Is there a correct way of putting on a condom?
- Inspect the condom packaging: wrapping must still be intact and properly sealed and the condom is still well within its expiry period.
- Push the condom to the bottom of the packaging, look for the serated edge of the wrapping and begin tearing with your finger tips and not nails!
- Pinch the tip of the condom so that no air gets trapped in before rolling it down an erect penis.
- Ensure that you have the condom in its correct position so that it rolls down easily. Should you unroll the condom down the incorrect direction you will struggle to unroll it. If you realize that this is the case only after the condom is on the penis, please dispose of the condom and start over again.
- Unroll the condom to the base of the penis and engage in the desired sexual activity.
- Once you have ejaculated unroll the condom of a semi-erect penis ensuring not to spill the semen, especially over your sexual partner.
- Tie up the open end of the condom, wrap it up in paper/tissue and dispose safely in a dustbin. Do not flush down the toilet, this may pose a problem.
Female condom (femidom):
- Check the expiry date; don't use beyond this date.
- Even though you may hear contrary, don?t use a femidom more that one.
- Tear the packaging from the end that already has an ?easy tear? opening.
- Insert the femidom any time before sex. If you want to insert the femidon sometime before intercourse so that it adjusts to the body contours as well as body heat.
- The inner ring needs to be inserted all the way into the vagina so that the outer ring sits at the vaginal lips.
- At the point of entering the vagina ensure that the penis is guided into the femidom as the penis can easily enter alongside the femidom. If this happens you will not be protected.
- After intercourse safely remove the femidom by twisting the outer ring and gently removing. This will avoid spilling the semen.
- Again, dispose of the femidom by wrapping in paper/tissue and throw in a dustbin and not down a toilet.
Even though this is not rocket science, it is amazing just how many individuals Struggle to use a condom correctly. A condom is therefore only as safe as the manner in which it is used.
Will a condom fit me?
If you blow up a condom, you will be able to see just how broad/long a condom is able to stretch. It will fit. Try using different brands, studded condoms for a different feel/pleasure and flavoured/coloured condoms for additional enjoyment
Contracting HIV is not the end of life, on the contrary it means staring to live life differently. To live a long healthy life means one needs to become more health conscious and that your lifestyle needs to reflect this. Support from family and friends are vital; choose the people you can trust to share some of your thoughts and concerns. Should you be unable to locate such individuals, use the services of trained therapists at the CCDU offices. Below are some of the tips necessary for living a healthy life.
- Eat Healthy foods: this does not mean expensive eating but simply that you limit the amount of Junk food, canned foods, fat and sugar, etc and that you eat a more balanced diet, fish, meat , eggs, fresh vegetables and fruit, etc.
- Drink lots of clean water
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid using substances like alcohol, cigarettes and banned drugs
- Take immune boosters and vitamins when needed
- Regular medical checks and monitoring of your CD4 count
- Always attend to symptoms of sicknesses as soon as possible
- Avoid contact with people who are clearly sick
- Have a healthy way of dealing with stress, eg. Listen to music, talk to a counselor, etc
- If you are on antiretroviral treatment; take your medication regularly and consistently. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any side effects.
- If you are having sexual intercourse; use a condom, be faithful to your partner, disclose your HIV status to your partner and ask your parent to test as well.
HIV cannot be cured. There are treatment methods for a person that has contracted the HI Virus; these are called antiretroviral treatment (ARV). ARV's are only issued to a person that has tested positive for HIV and who has a CD4 count below 200. Should you have tested positive for HIV and still have a high CD4 count you should seek medical assistance for whatever sickness that presents itself. ARV's help to control the increase of the viral load in the body; allowing a person to stay healthy for longer. Once you start taking ARV?s you have to take them for life, everyday at the same time. This slows down the virus from replicating and from building up a resistance to the particular ARV regiment that you are on. There may be side effects to ARV's like skin rashes andnasuea, etc. Remain in constant contact with your health care facility to monitor the effectiveness of the ARV's and your CD4 count. Having unprotected sex after being diagnosed with HIV can result in a person picking up a different strain of the virus; which may render the ARV ineffective. Furthermore, Unprotected sex could also result in the increase of the infected person?s viral load. Either way this will negatively impact on the infected person?s health and therefore whether or not a person has already contracted HIV, safe sex should be practiced. Treatment can be sourced from your local clinic or private doctor. Treatment is private and confidential. Along with treatment goes education. Should you fell the need to access personal counseling for support of general information, please contact the CCDU or Campus Health offices. These contacts will also be confidential.
Why should I test?
Testing me the only sure way to know your HIV status!
The test will determine whether you are positive or negative. Either way it will inform your decisions regarding your health. If you do test positive refer to the section on living positively. Should you test negative, it still means that you would need to live sexually safe life and make responsible decisions regarding yours and your sexual partner?s health. If you have had a risky exposure but have tested negative, you may need to do a follow-up test to negate the period between infection and the time it takes for the virus begins to appear on the tests (window period).
If my partner has tested Negative do I need to test?
Every person should test for themselves. It is important to know your own results if you are involved in a sexual relationship, even if you are married or involved in a long term relationship. One on the key elements to remember that whilst you can contract HIV largely through risky sexual practices, you could just as easily contract the virus from sports injuries, occupational risks like needle stick injuries, or motor vehicle or household accidents where exposure to someone else?s blood may place you at risk to contracting HIV. So whilst you may feel that you are negative, it is imperative to know for sure.
What is VCT?
The acronym stands for Voluntary Counselling and testing.
Firstly the process is purely voluntary and one should not feel coerced to undergoing and HIV test. Individuals may experience the time frame for the process differently owing to their own comfort with the facts and emotions surrounding the test and their comfort with finding out their results. If at any stage the individual feels that he/she may no longer want to continue with the process, the individual can opt out and no longer receive the test results or not test at all.
There is a a strong counselling aspect to the process. Initially pre test counselling is offered, preparing a client for the possible outcomes of the test and possible emotional responses. It is also a very factual focus on HIV/AIDS as well as looking at risk factors and exposure, positive living etc.
Post test counselling is offered after the test. Again the test results (positive or negative ) is released in a supportive counselling context. The results are given exploring what they mean to the individual, what is the impact of the results and whether or not the person will share the results with someone and who that person might be, etc. It will also explore the option of confirmatory tests if positive or re-testing after a 3 month period (window period) to validate a negative result.
The test used is called a rapid test which in itself can take about 5-10 minutes. It requires a few droplets of blood which is obtained from one of you fingertips through a pinprick. The blood is then fed into a testing kit and the results obtained after a few minutes. The pain/amount of blood required is very minimal. The knowledge of a confirmed HIV status (again negative or positive) far outweighs any reason for not wanting to test, including the fear of needles.
Where can I test?
Campus Health will do the rapid test for free, like most community clinics. Visit their offices at the matrix basement. Look out for mobile testing sites that go around the campuses periodically.
- Individual counselling and education
- Support group
- Marketing and information drives
- Training and workshops
- Referrals to other community based service providers.
- Medical management
- Treatment and advise on STI's
Should you need more information please check out the following links: