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Primary Health Care)




AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is an infectious disease that is spread by a virus. It is called a ‘syndrome’ because it consists of several sings and symptoms. In many African countries it is now the major cause of premature death.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)


HIV is what is known as a retrovirus. Little is known about its origin or the ways in which it can be cured.

The virus enters the T-helper cells of the immune system. It then destroys genetic material within the T-helper cells. The damage it causes is PERMANENT. All body fluids contain t-helper cells but the highest concentration can be found in blood, semen and vaginal secretion.


Who can carry the virus?

Anyone with virus can infect someone else. It is common for a carrier to not know that they are infected with the virus. Carriers may have no obvious signs that they are carriers. A person can be a carrier for many years before they fall ill. So, it’s is really the responsibility of individuals to be aware that Aids/HIV can strike anybody.

A few months after someone has contracted HIV their body begins to produce antibodies to the virus. These anti bodies can be detected by a special test. In most countries at least one hospital can offer this test. Anyone who thinks they may have been in contact with a carrier should have the test as soon as possible.


How might you have come into contact with a carrier?


HIV is spread when blood, semen or vaginal secretion of an infected person comes in contact with the blood or mucous membranes of a healthy person. The virus is spread by:

·        sexual intercourse between two people of the same or opposite sex, when one of the partners is infected

·        by transfusion of infected blood

·        by infected needles used by drug users who inject themselves with a substance

·        by an infected mother to her unborn child


When can you NOT catch HIV/Aids


The virus is NOT spread by:

·        shaking hands

·        living together

·        playing together

·        eating together

·        using some else’s plates or cups

·        eating the same food as a carrier

·        drinking the same water as a carrier

·        insects

·        toilet seats


How to prevent the spread of aids


There is no vaccine against Aids and, as yet no medicine to stop its spread within a person. Some multi-drug combinations do exist but they are (a) expensive and (b) only a slowing down agent, they do not cure a sufferer. So, your life style is the way in which you can prevent the spread of aids!

The desire for sexual activity is a normal part of human behaviour. Many young people now feel pressure from their peers to begin experimenting with sexual activity at a young age. It is quite common for a young girl to be menstruating in her early teenage years and then she is able to reproduce. Similarly, a young boy can mature into a sexually mature male in his early teenage years. It is the pressure to experiment with these new feelings and abilities that can lead young people into very dangerous situations. The risk of catching aids increases as a young person sleeps with more partners. To them it may seem exciting but the risks are high. To be safe a young person who is sexually active should (a) use a condom and (b) have one faithful sexual partner.