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How do I know someone who is infected with HIV?

You cannot know if someone is infected by mere looking at the person, only a HIV test (which is a test for the anti-bodies) can show that someone is infected with HIV.

What are the signs of HIV infection of AIDS?

There are a few clinical signs and symptoms, which are associated with making a provisional diagnosis of AIDS.

Major signs:

Weight loss more than 10% of body weight.

Chronic fever lasting longer than one month

Chronic diarrhea for more than one month.

Minor signs:

Persistent cough for more than one month.

General itchy dermatitis (skin infection).

Recurrent herpes zoster.

Oral-pharyngeal candidiasis (fungus infection of mouth and throat)

Chronic progressive and disseminated herpes simplex infection.

Persistent generalized lymphadenopathy (swelling of lymph nodes)

The presence of at least 2 major signs associated with at least 1 minor sign can be indicative of AIDS provided other causes of depleted immunity like malnutrition have been ruled out.

How do I prevent myself from getting HIV?

You can prevent yourself from being infected with HIV by abstaining from sex or always using condoms correctly and consistently during sex. Never sharing sharp objects (needles, syringes, etc) with others and also ensuring that blood and blood products transfused or transplanted to you are screened for HIV and other infections.

Can I marry someone living with HIV?

A person living with HIV can marry someone not living with HIV – (discordant couples). They have to be guided by a doctor (health service provider) when it comes to issues around pregnancy and childbirth in order to avoid transmission of HIV to the unborn child.

Can I marry someone who is negative?

A person living with HIV can marry someone not living with HIV – (discordant couples). They have to be guided by a doctor (health service provider) when it comes to issues around pregnancy and childbirth in order to avoid transmission of HIV to the unborn child.

Can I contract HIV through physical contact?

HIV can be transmitted through unprotected sex, sharing of sharp objects and exchange of blood with infected person

Can HIV be transmitted through breast-feeding?

Yes. The virus has been found in breast milk and studies have shown that children of HIV-infected mothers can get HIV infection through breast milk.

Breast milk, however, has many substances in it that protect an infant’s health and the benefits of breast-feeding for both mother and child are well recognized.

The possible risk of an infant becoming infected with HIV through breast-feeding is therefore thought to be outweighed by the benefits of breast-feeding.

Is it possible to have an HIV negative baby?

Yes. The best method for delivering a HIV negative baby is for the mother to receive PMTCT services at any government hospital close to you.

When should I start ante-natal?

As soon as you know that you are pregnant.

Where can I access a test centre

Most health facilities offer HIV testing services. Please click here to access a list of health facilities in Nigeria.

How much is it to get tested?

All government facilities offer HIV test for free although, private facilities may charge a fee based on the facility policy. Please click here to access a list of health facilities in Nigeria.

Facility operational hour and contact person’s phone number

Most government facilities operate 24/7. Operational hours for private facilities is based on each facility’s policy.

What are the side effects of ARVs?

As is the case with many powerful drugs, HIV medications can cause a variety of side effects. Side effects are specific to the different class of ARV.

Some common side effects are fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, high blood sugar, depression, anxiety, bleeding etc

Please enquire about possible side effects from your doctor before starting on any medication. Also contact your doctor immediately to report unexpected side effects of any medication you’re on

Please do not stop taking your drugs unless your doctor advises you to.

How long would I be on the drugs?

Once you start ARV therapy it has to be continued for lifetime. If you interrupt or stop the ARV therapy the virus becomes resistant to the drugs and the drugs become ineffective. Viral multiplication has to be controlled with maximal suppression on sustainable and durable basis for success of the therapy. Hence it has to be taken for lifetime till cure is found.

Is there a cure for HIV yet?

There is still no cure for HIV. However, people can take antiretroviral treatment, which suppresses the HIV virus. This can prevent them from reaching a point where they are diagnosed with AIDS. Also, in some cases, it is possible for a person who has an AIDS diagnosis to regain a strong immune system with antiretroviral therapy.

Where can I get support groups and their contact person?

Support groups are a crucial part of the treatment, care and support package. Upon taking a HIV test and receiving the result, if you are HIV positive, the service provider should ideally link you up to a treatment package which includes connecting you to a support group.

Alternatively, please visit www….com to access a list of treatment centers (ART sites) in Nigeria.

You can also contact your state chapter of the Network of People Living with HIV for more information. There are networks for women and young people living with HIV.

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