HIV is a viral infection caused by Human Immune deficiency virus type 1 and 2. Most people in the country are infected with HIV virus type 1. In Botswana 17.1% of population is infected with HIV and at least 3 out of 10 pregnant mothers are also infected with HIV. Some Children and Adolescent are infected with HIV primarily from their infected mothers the time before PMTCT program started. Recently the PMTCT program has been providing ARV treatment to HIV positive pregnant mothers as a result it has managed to reduce the HIV infection of babies from 40% to 3%.
People get infected with HIV thorough unprotected sex, when in contact with contaminated blood or blood products and during pregnancy and delivery infection may pass from mother to the child.
The virus is transmitted through:
HIV infection manifests itself with the following stages:
This an acute HIV syndrome occurring 0-12 weeks after infection. the infected person will present with mostly signs of flu like- fever, malaise, skin rashes and possibly with enlarged lymph nodes. The viral load is very high >1000 copies/ml but the CD4 counts remains at normal levels. Because of high viral load and non specific symptoms most people would not know that are infected with HIV and they are highly infectious and susceptible for transmission of HIV infection to their sexual partners
This period manifest itself without any symptoms ( latent phase) but the viral replications continue resulting in destruction to the immune system and gradually the CD4 counts decreases in number. In absence of treatment the CD4 counts falls to below 200cells/mm3. At this stage the HIV positive clients will start developing symptoms of AIDS and opportunistic infections such as TB, Meningitis, cancers, recurrent STIs etc.
It is recommended for all individuals to know their status in relation to HIV infection. This will allow an individual to make the right decision and correct measure of treatment and prevention on time. Available test are blood test Rapid Test using unigold and ….. ELISA and PCR.
Rapid test can be negative during window period that is why individual are recommended to repeat test after 6 month of initial testing. All HIV Negative individuals who are sexually active are recommended to test for HIV infection annually after initial testing as per RHT irrespective of method of HIV prevention being used.
HIV infection is not an illness, it the presence of the virus within the body. The viruses in the body will infect the CD4 cells where by incapacitating your immunity system. In an advance stage where the immunity fails ( CD4 < 200); the body cannot fight other serious infection and cause AIDS, this is the time where HIV positive individuals with Low immune system start to have recurrent infections and chrodic diseases like TB, meningitis, repeated diarrhoeas, repeated STIs, repeated pneumonias. Repeated infections cause more illness to vital organs liver, kidneys, heart and central nervous system. In a more complicated condition and without proper and timely treatment AIDS can end up to death.
HIV Infection is a life long infection that currently does not have cure. There are antiretroviral drugs ( ART, HAART) that can help to improve the immunity system, improve health condition, prolong life span and prevent AIDS. For individual to access ARV u need to be checked your status of immunity system CD4 counts. ARV are being provided when CD4 counts are <250 cells/cu mm.
HIV infected individuals who stick to health regulations and advice and enroll on ART program on time survive and live healthy life longer.