So our news media yet again show that headlines and ratings comes before the well being of someone, in this case it was Charlie Sheen who was forced to admit that he was HIV+.
Charlie had done nothing wrong, had not broken any laws, indeed from everything I have been able to read, he has been extremely sensible in his actions and in his advice to subsequent partners once he discovered that he had the virus. However, the news media loved the hype, and the speculation, indeed my observation is that they went out of their way to play the situation up and to expand their readership.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and weakens the body’s immune system (the body’s disease fighting system). HIV makes it difficult for your body to fight against infections and cancers that it would normally be able to fight off.
If a HIV positive person does not get proper treatment, the virus may progress to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). AIDS is a disease in which the immune system breaks down and the body is unable to fight off certain infections.
According to the latest figures, 320 people were diagnosed with HIV in Ireland in 2011. That means that around 6 people are diagnosed every week with HIV. Globally, there are 34 million people currently living with HIV.
- Your partner or one night stand can be HIV positive and not know it. Always use condoms.
- You can be HIV positive and not know it, so if you’re sexually active it’s a good idea to have regular STI check-ups.
- Once you have HIV, you are infected for life and have the potential to infect others….
What treatment can you get?
- There is no cure for HIV and AIDS, but there is treatment available that helps to slow down the progress of HIV. This treatment is called HAART (Highly Active Retroviral Therapy) or ‘the cocktail’. It works to stop the virus spreading within your body and it requires keeping to a very strict medication schedule.
- You will generally attend a specialist HIV clinic every three months or so to get testing done and your treatment monitored. They will also be able to advise you on safer sex and other practicalities of living with HIV. You can also get emotional support from hospital social workers and HIV organisations.
- If you are pregnant and HIV positive, you can also receive treatment during pregnancy and labour that will help to prevent the risk of your baby being infected by the virus. You need to talk to your doctor about the available options. Your partner and recent partners should also be tested….
HIV+ is a virus, it can be fatal, but with the right treatment it need not be. BUT, HIV is a sexually transmitted virus, just like Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections. We ALL our responsible for taking the correct precautions when we decide to have sex, i.e.
Key ways include:
- talking to your partner about your sexual relationships;
- using condoms and dental dams;
- being aware of how alcohol and drugs can lower inhibitions and affect decision making;
- getting tested for sexually transmitted infections if you think you may have put yourself at risk;
- limiting your number of sexual partners;
- avoiding overlapping sexual relationships.
NIGRA urges everyone to be safe, and live. Enjoy yourselves with safety in mind, and then you and your partner can enjoy the future.
- Spun-Out.ie – HIV and AIDs
- National Aids Trust – Thnk Postive: Rethink HIV
- Sexual Health NI
- Reuters: Anti-HIV pill, taken as needed, prevents infection in gay men
- Paul Nicholls-Whiteman – The Worst Day Of My Life Was… Remembering The Height Of The AIDS Epidemic
- Baroness Verma: “It’s great to hear us talk about ending AIDS but the job is far from over.”