The Silent Epidemic & HIV

19 11 2012

Sexually transmitted infections have been referred to as the Silent Epidemic.

Alta van Dyk tells us in HIV/AIDS Care & Counselling that sexually transmitted infections are a major problem in southern Africa. It is estimated that annually more than a million people seek treatment at municipal clinics and private practices. It is also believed that many more seek help from traditional healers.

It is small wonder that HIV has formed a deadly alliance with STIs!

People who have sexually transmitted infections are particularly vulnerable to HIV for the following reasons:

  1. A  response of the body to any inflammation is to concentrate lymphocytes into the area to fight the infection. CD4 cells are part of this migration and the HIV attaches itself to the CD4 cells to enter the blood stream and multiply
  2. Patients with genital ulcers are particularly susceptible to HIV cross infection as the ulcers create openings in the mucous membrane through which the HI virus easily moves
  3. Genital  discharges and secretions are high in HIV concentration making the HIV-positive person extremely infectious.
  4. HIV infections delay the healing and the cure of the STIs therefore making them more severe and difficult to treat.

Health care professionals are alerted to early diagnosis and treatment of STIs and to refer them for HIV testing after pre-test counselling

Researchers in Africa believe that the control of sexually transmitted infections may go a long way in combating HIV.

Education to encourage condom usage, avoidance of multiple intimate partners and timely treatment of sexually transmtted infections can be your and my contribution to this goal.

©Teresa Denton


Slow HIV Progression with Food

7 11 2012

Maintaining a healthy, nutritious diet is important for all people, but particularly for people living with HIV.

A poor diet impairs the functioning of the immune system, and hastens the progress of HIV infection to AIDS.

Nutrition is not a substitute for treatment – eventually all HIV infected persons will need antiretroviral medicines to support their immune system.

The HIV positive person will need to eat well to maintain his/her weight. In all the HIV care centres, expert advice is available to guide patients about the best way to get adequate nutrition.

Opportunistic infections such as thrush of the throat will limit food intake and the nutritionist will help to manage the challenge. Many persons living with HIV suffer from digestive problems such as severe diarrhoea & nausea. The health professional can provide advice on containing these conditions and advise on the foods which will cause the least irritation.

Vitamins, such as multivitamins, vitamin B complex, vitamin B12, zinc and selenium can potentially support the immune system. It is advisable to consult with the health professional to find out about the recommended dosage. Too little can be ineffective and too much could be dangerous.

Immune boosters may or may not strengthen the immune system. Many overpriced products are marketed and the effectiveness has not been scientifically verified. Consumers must be aware and get expert advice.

A nutritionist will supply information about:

  • Healthy eating and lifestyle
  • Food preparation
  • Nutritional supplements

For people who cannot afford their nutritional needs, food parcels are supplied at Government HIV service points. Welfare societies, churches and NGOs also distribute food parcels.

Eating healthy, nutritious food and a well balanced diet can benefit not only those living with HIV, but all of us.

©Teresa Denton

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