Because a new HIV diagnosis can be stressful to an individual, it is not only important to seek follow-up care from a medical standpoint, but from a mental and spiritual standpoint as well. Some follow-up recommendations may include: 1. Prompt medical treatment for initiation of antiretroviral medications, appropriate vaccine administration 2. Continuation of medical care including taking prescribed medication, even when not symptomatic. 3. Education regarding changes in behaviors to reduce risk of transmission to others. 4. Referrals to behavioral and psychological services to assist with emotional needs as well as assistance with coping strategies to deal with the many changes that accompany the diagnosis. 5. Encouragement to seek spiritual care and companionship.
6. Education regarding reproductive choices and contraceptive information.1
What is hiv?
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, which leads to immunosuppression. The immunosuppression can cause opportunistic infections, cancer, central nervous system degeneration, and death. HIV is transmitted from person to person from sexual contact, blood contact, or from mother to infant.. 2 HIV is generally classified into three categories; the primary infection phase, the latent phase, and the overt AIDS infection phase. The progression of these phases typically spans 8-12 years.
Many people have symptoms after their primary infection that may include: fever, fatigue, sore throat, night sweats, gastrointestinal problems, rash, and headache. If the infection is detected during the primary infection period, the patient may have a much better outcome with early treatment. The primary phase is followed by the latent phase, when the patient is asymptomatic. This phase lasts an average of 10 years. The latent phase is followed by overt-AIDS. If untreated, this phase can lead to death within 2-3 years, or sooner.2 who’s at risk?
Men who have unprotected sex with men are at the greatest risk for acquiring HIV. Infants are at risk for acquiring HIV from their mothers in utero, during labor and/or delivery, and during breastfeeding; however transmission can be almost entirely prevented by the proper use of antiretroviral medications and the absence of breastfeeding. 3 Sharing contaminated needles, unprotected sex, receiving unsterile medical procedures, and accidental needle sticks put individuals at risk. testing There are several different tests available to screen for HIV. Testing is recommended at least once per year for sexually active persons. Enzyme immunoassay test (results take up to two weeks) 4
Rapid HIV antibody test (results take 10-20 minutes) 4
Both tests may be done using blood, oral fluid, or urine. If a positive result from either of the previous two tests, a Western Blot test must be performed. Testing may not be positive even in the presence of infection if testing occurs shortly after infection. The results of the Western Blot test may take up to two weeks. 4 Antigen test (blood test. Can diagnose earlier at 1-3 weeks after first infection) 4 PCR test
Can identify HIV in blood within 2-3 weeks of infection.
Used in testing of babies born to HIV positive mothers to determine if the babies themselves are positive
4 Home testing kits
Home test kits may be purchased at most pharmacies. A small blood sample is mailed in and the patient is contacted with results.
There are several different ways individuals can help prevent acquiring HIV. Some of the methods include:
1. Correct and consistent use of condoms
2. Abstinence or mutual monogamous long-term relationships
3. Regular testing for HIV
4. Use of sterile syringes by IV drug users
5. Antiretroviral treatment for those infected5
6. Male circumcision
There is no cure for HIV. Treatment focuses on slowing down the replication of the virus. Treatment of the HIV virus involves taking medication that interrupts the virus’s replication process. Typically this involves using a combination of medications. The current standard treatment is a combination of three to four antiviral medications which is referred to as high active antiretroviral therapy or HAART.2 Because opportunistic infections are highly problematic in individuals with HIV/AIDS, infection exposure should be limited and vaccines should be obtained as recommended. 2
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