UGPulse Members Discuss AIDS on Emboozi

UGPulse Members Discuss AIDS on Emboozi

It began with a light hearted opening of the thread "Talk about contraversies!!!!" by UGPulse member Hermit to talk about the contraversial play 'Vagina Monologues' which the Ugandan government refused the organizers to show in Uganda. It looks like the show served its purpose after all, as a number of Ugandans continue to talk about issues in the way the show hoped they would.

It is no difference at the Emboozi Forums where they asked UGPulse to help educate those that might have missed a pointer or two on AIDS.

By UGPulse Members
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First published: May 10, 2005


Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS):
A group of signs and symptoms, usually of severe infections, occurring in a person whose immune system has been damaged by infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

A protein in the blood produced in reaction to foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses that cause infections.

The lower, narrow end of the uterus.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV):
A virus that attacks certain cells of the body’s immune system and causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Immune System:
The body’s natural defense system against foreign substances and invading organisms, such as bacteria that cause disease.

Things you should already know:

If you are HIV positive, you can pass the virus to your baby. The virus can affect both the woman and the fetus before and after birth.

About 14-35 % of pregnant women who are infected with HIV pass on the virus to the fetus during pregnancy or delivery.

The type of delivery is usually not affected by HIV infection. Cesarean birth (in which the baby is born through incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus) is not thought to lower the risk to the fetus of getting the virus from the mother.

Breast Feeding
Because HIV has been found in breast milk, a mother who is breast-feeding may be able to infect her infant. Therefore, HIV-positive mothers are advised not to breast-feed their babies.

Heterosexual (straight) women are one of the groups in whom the rate of infection is rising the most rapidly.

How Infection Occurs
HIV enters the bloodstream by way of body fluids, chiefly blood and semen. A person becomes infected with the virus if he or she comes into contact with the body fluids from someone who is infected. However, the risk is small if the fluids contact intact skin. Once a person is infected, he or she carries the virus for life.

Once in the blood, the virus invades and kills cells of the immune system, the body’s natural defense against disease. Without these cells, the body is less able to combat disease. Damage to the immune system leaves the body open to severe infections and certain types of cancer.

Effects of HIV
A person who has been infected usually does not become ill with AIDS right away. The effects of HIV infection show up over time. Infected persons move from stage to stage at different rates.

Shortly after infection, there may be a brief, flu like illness. As the immune system becomes weaker, there may be symptoms such as weight loss and fatigue.

Over time, HIV breaks down the immune system. It may be months or years before further symptoms appear. On average, it takes about 11 years from the time of infection to develop AIDS. Eventually, the body is left open to severe illness, certain types of cancer, and harmful infections. Amongst others, they include:

Certain types of infections:

  • Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia- a lung disease
  • Toxoplasmosis- an infection that can cause problems of the nervous system
  • Candidiasis- a type of yeast infection, especially of the lungs and throat
  • Cytomegalovirus- a virus that can attack the nervous system and cause brain damage

Certain types of cancer:

  • Kaposi sarcoma – a cancer that causes purplish blotches on the skin and can spread to the internal organs
  • Lymphomas- cancers of the lymph system
  • Cancer of the cervix

Conditions such as these are called opportunistic, because they take the opportunity to attack the body when the immune system is weak. Although they can be treated, they often come back after treatment. An HIV infected person who becomes ill with one of these conditions is said to have AIDS. It is thought that everyone who is now infected with HIV will develop AIDS someday. AIDS is usually fatal within a few years after it is diagnosed.

Go To Emboozi Discussions on AIDS:

We will bring you more pointers on AIDS in future articles.

By UGPulse Members
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First published: May 10, 2005
Material Submitted by UGPulse Members. The pointers are taken from a 1993 Patient Education Pamphlet developed under the direction of the Committee on Patient Education of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.