This is Dr.Trupti Gilada and I am an infectious disease specialist. Since we are soon approaching 1st December 2018, I would love to talk to you about HIV / AIDS. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the world AIDS day this 1st of December, let's sit back and think about what we have achieved over these last 30 years. It has been the 30 years of not just the disease but also for the campaigning, for access, for care, prevention and treatment for all individuals. The theme for this year is 'know your status'. So, why is it so important to know your HIV status? It was it is known that HIV is an incurable disease and it still remains to be that way but what is lesser known is this disease is now a chronic manageable disease just like many other diseases like diabetes and hypertension, where the infected individual under a proper specialist care receives treatment remains on regular treatment and lives an absolutely normal quality of life and an absolutely normal length of life as well.
So it's important to know whether each individual is HIV positive or negative because if they are positive, they can be put on treatment immediately and it is not just beneficial for the patient himself or herself but what is also important is once these individuals are put on treatment, they become something called as 'virally suppressed' which means that the viral load in their bodies is so low that they do not transmit the disease to either their sexual partners or an infected lady doesn't transfer the disease to her baby and if the patient and if the person is uninfected or HIV negative, then we have strategies to keep them HIV negative for life.
So what is it that stops people from getting themselves tested for HIV? The main reason is this stigma and the discrimination around the disease, the fear of being shunned by family, by friends, by health care givers once they are tested positive and this is one thing that we as a society need to work on to change this entire stigma and discrimination and not just eliminate the disease but also to eliminate the stigma. Individuals who are infected are just like any other individual. They do not transmit the disease by staying in the same house or by working together nor do they transmit the disease to their treating physicians. So it's important to treat them with compassion and care rather than shun them.
The other reason why people do not get themselves tested is because they don't think that they might be infected. And this is the one thing that we really want people to understand is that if you have ever had any sexual exposure with an individual who's HIV status you did not know, you should get yourself tested. And by saying that the status you do not know is not just thinking that that person might have been HIV negative.
The only way that you know whether the person is infected or uninfected is by getting an HIV test. So once someone gets an HIV test, if he or she tests positive, the treatment is available, they will lead a normal life, they will not just protect themselves but they'll also protect their families. And if the individual tests HIV negative, then there are other strategies to keep them negative for life. And condom is not just one of them.
There is something called as pre exposure prophylaxis and post exposure prophylaxis which are specific HIV medications given to HIV negative individuals to protect them from getting infected and these medications are given either before the sexual exposure or after the sexual exposure. So to know more about these strategies, you should get in touch with an infectious disease physician or someone who knows this concept well. The one other thing that we as a society can start doing is health checkups before marriage.
Just like we match kundlis before marriage and we match families before marriage, it's equally important to match health before marriage and when we say health it might not just be HIV or sexually transmitted diseases but we can test the couple who is going to get married for diseases like diabetes, for hypertension, have their blood groups checked and then an informed decision can be taken after that. So to summarise I think it's time that each of us takes that one step forward, gets ourselves tested for HIV and takes the necessary steps that are needed after that.
For more questions and for any other help that you may need, please feel free to contact me on lybrate.com