Test for Life

24 02 2015


They said I must be tested.

I just had a little cold!

So why must I be pestered,

And why is everyone so bold?

I continued getting ill,

My job was now in danger.

I tried to work & function still.

To my friends I became a stranger.

At the clinic I heard about a test;

About life-style and treatment.

I learned about counseling & the rest,

And how to make an appointment.

The counselor was very kind,

All my questions were answered.

The informed consent was signed.

At last my secret fears were heard.

My CD4s are low & the viral load is high.

The counselor held my hand.

“Tell me, am I soon going to die,

Will they bury me in the sand?”

“No, no, no!” at the clinic they say,

“There is so much we can do.

First change your life in work & play,

We’ll support & stand by you!”

My life has changed & I am better,

From medication I’ll never be free.

I follow a diet plan to the letter,

Each three months the doctor I see.

Please join me to spread the news:

There is life, even after infection.

Many may come with different views,

But nothing ever beats prevention.

©Teresa Denton 2005



How I View

21 09 2012

Whether the effect is severe or mild, 

Remember that this is just a child, 

Who may have lost a father or mother; 

Friend; a cousin; a sister or brother.

Try to help in practical way

Do what you can to lighten the days.

Bring some food, blankets or clothes.

It need not be heaps of loaves.

Offer the care giver a break in the day,

She may be tired & too shy to say.

If medicines or checks have to be done,

Invent some games to make it fun.

And when it comes near to the end

Anyone so sick will need a friend.

Give a hug, a kiss and some love,

You’ll get strength and help from above.

These little people did not do wrong

They don’t deserve to suffer so long.

If we could all lend a willing hand,

We’ll bring light to our suffering land.

©Teresa Denton


ART Resistance

17 08 2012

If an antiretroviral medicine user becomes resistant to the medication it means that the medication he is taking is no longer suppressing HIV.

At the regular check-ups the HIV levels in the blood (viral load) will increase and the immune system will weaken again. ( CD4 count will drop)

Resistance will occur because:

  • After a time the HIV develops resistance to the medicines. ART regime consists of several types of medicines, which when used together decrease the chances of resistance developing
  • The  particular strain of virus may be resistant to the medication in use.
  • The  patient may not be taking the medication regularly
  • The person may have stopped taking the medication and after a while resumed the treatment.

If the patient develops resistance the doctor will prescribe another combination of medication. This is done very carefully as there is a limited number of ART combinations available.

ART is vital for survival and once treatment is started it is important that the treatment is continued and taken exactly as prescribed for life.

If any problems are experienced it is important to discuss them with the health professional in charge.

Changes to the treatment can only be made under the strict guidance of the health professional.

Regular follow-up visits to the clinic and the blood counts as needed, will detect early signs of resistance and could save a life.

Courage and perseverance will promote the quality of life

©Teresa Denton


The Voluntary Snip

10 08 2012

Although we all know that no one preventive procedure is 100% safe, circumcision is known to reduce the danger of most sexually transmitted infection including HIV transmission.

In an article written for THE MAIL & GARDIAN by Dr Mia Malan on the 27th July 2012, she mentions a number of surveys which points to the fact that circumcision will reduce the chances of infection transmission!

The problem occurs when the foreskin is only partially removed.


Unfortunately many of the men, who were traditionally circumcised in their youth, had only partial foreskin removal and therefore do not benefit optimally from the procedure.

South Africa is awaiting the WHO-endorsed circumcision device to simplify the procedure. As soon as the endorsement is received then a massive programme will be undertaken to train traditional circumcisers and nurses to perform the procedure with total removal of the foreskin.

I quote Dr Yogan Pillay, in the same article, that the medical fraternity in South Africa has circumcised 529520 medically.

The South African Medical Journal conducted a study and 66% of the men included in the study were aware of the benefit of medical circumcisions. Most were unwilling to undergo the procedure stating religion, culture, notions of manhood and social disapproval as reasons for their reluctance.

The South African Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, writes that if we aim at medically circumcising 4.3 million men between the ages of 15-49 years by 2015 we can avert 20% of new HIV infections by 2025!

We have a lot to do!

“We need to meet the demand, but must also ensure that circumcised men know that they should still use condoms because the procedure is NOT FOOLPROOF PROTECTION AGAINST HIV” says Dr Motsoaledi

©Teresa Denton


Antiretroviral Medication

3 08 2012

How do antiretroviral medications counteract HIV?

HIV uses enzymes to enter the CD4 cell and to prepare the cell and its contents for viral multiplication. Once the virus has multiplied, more enzymes are needed to mature the new viruses in preparation for release into the blood stream.

Antiretroviral medications suppress the replication of HIV by blocking the enzymes needed at the various stages of the viral life cycle.  

The decision to start antiretroviral treatment (ART) is usually guided by the CD4 cell count test (which indicates the strength of the immune system) and the viral load test (which indicates the amount of HIV in the body). Blood is regularly sent to a laboratory to ascertain these levels and to help to decide on the commencement of the treatment.

The health professional also assesses the general clinical condition of the patient to decide on the right time to commense ART.

ART prevents the virus from multiplying, thereby decreasing the amount of the virus in the blood. This allows the CD4 cells to increase and the body’s immune system to recover and protect itself.

Antiretroviral medications do not cure HIV, they just prevent the virus from multiplying.

If treatment is interrupted the virus will resume with its multiplication. Interruption in treatment may also cause the virus to build up a resistance to the medication.

ART must be taken for life, and, if correctly taken, regularly monitored, will prolong and improve the quality of life of the person with HIV

©Teresa Denton


Women and HIV

27 07 2012

Physical, socio-economic, and cultural factors make women and girls more vulnerable to HIV.

In some cultures the woman in the relationship is still not empowered to demand the use of condoms and protective mechanisms.

There are cultural groups in which there is a strong patriarchal belief that all sexually- transmitted- infections are caused by women.

HIV by deduction therefore falls into this category. Women and girls must have contracted these infections somewhere and men and boys are equally responsible for the spread of these conditions.

The anatomy of the woman explains the physical vulnerability.

The vagina has a large area of exposed and sensitive skin which can get damaged or cut during sex. Semen also stays longer in the vagina after sex, increasing the risk of transmission.

By contrast the penis has a smaller surface area, which is in contact with vaginal fluids for a shorter time. This means that man’s risk of contracting HIV is lower than that of women.

Some women may not be aware that they have a sexually-transmitted-infection as the symptoms may not be obvious. The presence of an untreated infection increases their vulnerability to HIV infection.

We need to empower and protect our women as they are the mothers of the future generation!

©Teresa Denton


The Attack of HIV

20 07 2012

How does HIV enter the human body?

We have discussed ways in which the virus does not enter your body. What are the ways in which the virus does cross over from one person to another?

  • From unprotected sexual intercourse. Unprotected sex means sex without a condom.
  • From mother to child. A pregnant mother who is HIV positive can pass the virus on to her unborn child. This can happen in the womb, but the greatest risk of cross infection is during childbirth or through breastfeeding.
  • Direct contact with the blood of a HIV positive person. An open wound comes into contact with the blood of an HIV positive person. Cross infection could also occur during fights with unknown assailants, when both parties are injured.
  • Sharing needles or syringes with an HIV positive person. Drug users are often not fussy about sharing syringes and needles. Health professionals are vulnerable when they get needle stick injuries during the course of their work.
  • Sharing razor blades or toothbrushes. This is especially possible if the uninfected person has sores or bleeding gums.

All these possible means of cross infection can be minimized if the HIV positive person is on antiretroviral medication and is regularly monitored. The health professional must at all times be aware of the viral load. The lower the viral load, the lower the incidence of cross infection. HIV negative partner or caregiver must at all times be careful and alert to possible means of transmission.

If at any time you think you may have been exposed to HIV positive blood or bodily fluids  get medical advice as soon as possible.

It is always better to be safe than sorry.

©Teresa Denton


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