Held on 1st December every year, World AIDS Day is a global event to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS. Every year, World AIDS Day focuses on a specific theme, which this year will be “Now More Than Ever” for Australia.
On this day, people around the world gather together to show their support for people living with HIV and commemorate people who have lost their lives due to this illness.
At Inkerman Medical Group, this year we aim to encourage our communities to educate themselves and others about HIV AIDS, its prevention, testing and the many treatments and care services available for your sexual health.
Let’s learn more about HIV/AIDS.
What is HIV AIDS and why is it important to know more about it?
HIV is the name of a virus that damages your immune system. Once inside your body, it will start killing the immune cells making it more likely to get diagnosed with other medical conditions including cancers.
The HIV virus is not transmitted by any other medium but bodily fluids such as blood, semen, breast milk and rectal fluids.
The scariest part of this disease is that the virus can insert itself into our DNA, that remains there forever and we still do not have a cure to get rid of it completely.
But the good thing is that there are treatments available to make it easier to live with it. The most crucial thing is to start your treatment as soon as you know your HIV status before it further deteriorates your health.
HIV/AIDS may not be curable but certainly preventable
Since first reported in the 1980s in the United States, we have come a long way fighting HIV and AIDS. Thanks to awareness campaigns, education and continuous improvement in medications, the rate of HIV infection has been controlled well in Australia.
HIV/AIDS is very preventable. There are many effective ways available to prevent the risk of HIV infection. Speaking with your GP about your sexual health is perhaps the best way to reduce your risk to HIV/AIDS.
Our GP’s at Inkerman Medical Group suggests the following ways to keep your HIV risk at bay:
1) Use protection every time in the right way
Learn more about the right way to use protection, click here.
2) Reduce your risk through PrEP
PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a widely used daily HIV medication taken by HIV-negative individuals to prevent the risk of being HIV-positive. This medicine is used to form a biological barrier, preventing the HIV virus from entering your body.
When taken the right way, PrEP is very effective in preventing the risks of HIV transmission and it is appropriate for anyone to use it. However, it is best to consult a sexual health doctor if you’re considering PrEP.
3) Get tested for STDs regularly
If you’re a sexually active person, regular testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases is pivotal for your sound sexual health.
Our Inkerman Medical Group doctors recommend all adolescents between the age of 16 and 64 to get tested at least once every year.
All pregnant women are also advised to get tested for syphilis, HIV and Hepatitis B when early in their pregnancy.
4) Never share needles or other injecting equipment
Always use clean, sterilised and new needles when an injection is required. The risk of both getting and transmitting HIV through shared needles is extremely high.
Injecting equipment including needles and syringes can contain blood and blood can carry the HIV virus.
Sharing these injecting equipment is also considered the second riskiest behaviour for getting infected with HIV after unprotected sex.
You can have HIV and still not know about it
Many individuals can have HIV and still not be aware of it simply because they won’t notice any symptoms at all.
There are some initial symptoms like fever, headache, muscle and joint pain within the first few weeks, but they are often overlooked for seasonal flu and other common diseases.
The only way to get to know your status is through a test.
How soon can a test determine the virus after the first exposure to it?
After a possible infection, there are still no tests available that can determine the virus immediately.
If you think you have been exposed to the virus, it is best to consult a doctor for a test within 72 hrs.
Every individual might have a different window period between the first exposure to the virus and when a test can tell for sure if you have the infection. Your doctors are the best to consult about your window period and what test would suit you.
It is also necessary to get a follow-up test after your window period is over for a confirmed HIV status.
Consult our Inkerman Medical Group doctors for your sexual health
We understand that discussing your sexual health might be an uncomfortable thing to do with your care providers.
Talking honestly about your sexual health goes beyond preventing the risks for HIV and other STIs. You may even learn more about a possible diagnosis of an underlying condition related to your sexual health.
Your conversation with our doctors will be very confidential and they are highly experienced in answering any questions on sexual health, safe practices, prevention and treatment for HIV and AIDS.
Our doctors will ensure that you and your partner are aware of the risks to HIV and will check on your mental health as well as the use of harmful substances.