The 2013 Resolution

11 01 2013

Too often we look around, and wonder what others are doing to solve problems.

Let 2013 be the year in which I look at myself and evaluate what I have done

about the HIV/AIDS challenge.

  • Have I shared my knowledge with anyone?
  • Have I tested my HIV status?
  • Have I encouraged anyone to have him or herself tested?
  • Have I used my contacts to spread the positive message to minimize the stigma?
  • Have I lent a helping hand to a person living with the HI virus?
  • What have I done up to now and how can I contribute in 2013?

Let us all make a difference in 2013!

©Teresa Denton


A Love to Know

1 12 2012

I fell in love with you,

We were a fantastic couple.

I’ll spend my life with you,

You were the best I had known.

An HIV positive status was shown

‘Give it to me; I’ll die with you’

‘Till death us do part’ we said,

Let that commitment be known.

Soon afterwards you left me,

To infect another victim was sure.

I felt betrayed and deserted,

Alone, if only I had known.

Love, acceptance and care

Greeted me at the health clinic.

Medication manages my illness,

Precious life; you should’ve known.

©Teresa Denton

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


26 10 2012

She is a small unassuming woman…

Precious was a single mother whose husband ran off with one of his girlfriends.

She was left to care for and rear her four children.

Deep in rural Transkei, where she lived, there were no jobs so Precious left her children with relatives and set out for Johannesburg to look for a job.

A village in rural Transkei

Because of her lack of education Precious could only manage to find a job as a housekeeper. She was hard working and loyal and within a few years she found the ideal job. She was well paid and had beautiful, furnished accommodation. Her employer was very generous. Precious often had her children and relatives in Johannesburg with her for weekends and holidays. She managed to save money to rebuild her home in the Transkei and cared well for her children and other members of her family.

Precious was happy. Precious was appreciated!

A few years ago Precious got a cold. The cold virus was rampant and within two weeks Precious was admitted to hospital with pneumonia. After discharge Precious remained weak and her recovery took a long time.

Two months later Precious was sick again and her second admission to hospital within six months occurred. This time Precious remained ill and struggled to get back on her feet. No amount of tonics, health drinks or vitamins seemed to have any effect on her health.

This is where I came into the picture. The employer asked me to come and see Precious to see if I could get to the bottom of her lingering illness.

That tiny forty five year old lady had shrunk to thirty-nine kilograms. I counselled her and she agreed to have an HIV test. In less than five minutes I had a positive result. Precious was very sick, in fact Precious was dying. We started her on antiretroviral medication before we even had the CD4 count or the viral load tally. Her weight dropped to thirty six Kilograms within a week. The CD4 count was 67 when we got it ten days later and her X-rays confirmed pulmonary Tuberculosis. Treatment for TB was started immediately.

The sequel to the story is that Precious now has a CD4 count of over 500 and she is managing part-time employment. She is clear of Tuberculosis. Her original employer is still supplying her with groceries to assure that she eats a healthy diet. We think that her ex-husband is dead because we heard that he was very ill.

The story of Precious is no different from thousands of people in my country, but not everyone is lucky enough to have someone who cares.

©Teresa Denton

A Virus comes to Stay, The HIV Time Line

19 10 2012

The first recognised cases of AIDS were identified in 1981 when a very rare form of pneumonia (Pneumonia carinii ), thrush and Kaposi’s sarcoma (a rare skin cancer) suddenly made an appearance simultaneously in several patients admitted to hospitals in the USA.

Adler tells us in Development of the epidemic (1988) that these patients were young homosexual men with damaged immune systems.

In 1983 a virus was identified and known as LAV (lymphadenopathy-associated virus).

In May 1986 the virus was renamed as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)

Soon afterwards a new disease made an appearance among heterosexual people in Central Africa. This disease destroyed the immune systems, caused severe diarrhoea and gross weight loss. In Africa it was called ‘slim disease’.

Alta van Dyk describes (HIV/AIDS Care & Counselling) in detail the claims and protracted court case between Dr Luc Montagnier of the Louis Pasteur Institute and Dr Robert Gallo of the USA. Both claimed the discovery of the virus. After intervention of the presidents of France and the USA a compromise was reached and both scientists were officially recognised as the co- discoverers of the virus according to Conner & Kingman (The Search for the Virus).

Two viruses are associated with AIDS; HIV-1 and HIV-2.

HIV-1 was isolated in Central, East & southern Africa, North and Southern America, Europe and the rest of the world.  HIV-2 was discovered in West Africa in 1986. Due to global travel these viruses will cross borders.

In 1987 the first antiretroviral drug AZT (zidovudine) was approved for use.

In 1994 ART (antiretroviral therapy) was used for the first time to prevent mother-to-child transmission.

It was in 1995 that triple drug therapy was introduced. It took another decade before some countries in southern Africa started using ART.

At this stage all the world’s governments recognise the need for ART as a response to HIV infection. The roll out to infected individuals is impeded by the prohibitive cost  of the drugs.

ART is used for:

  • Long-term treatment of persons with established infections
  • Short-term prevention- mother-to-child-transmission; occupational exposure and traumatic exposure after sexual assault or rape.

Active research is now being undertaken to develop ART for the prevention of accidental or casual exposure.

HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence.

We can all play a part in fighting this pandemic, no matter how small. Don’t underestimate your own contribution.

©Teresa Denton

A World Apart

14 10 2012

If we think we are a world apart.

How can we be expected to understand

the lives of the HIV infected and their kin?

Surely we can’t be expected to play a part!

Even if we are a world apart,

we can expel fear by getting informed

about the condition known as HIV or Aids.

With up to date knowledge we can start.

Our lives may be a world apart,

but we can encourage friends and family

to get tested and know their status.

Each life we save will play a part.

Our future is not at all a world apart.

We cannot ignore because no one is safe.

Keep virus free with active prevention

and show the positive that we have a heart.

©Teresa Denton

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