The Truth about HIV and AIDS

Originally posted on 2010-08-12T20:01:00Z at

A thorough Look at a Killer Disease's Misconception:
A while back I was doing a counselling course on HIV and AIDS, we had a field project in Kibera (the Kenyan second largest slum in the Africa). That’s when I realized that many of us do not know facts about HIV. By now, the approximated number of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Kenya is 1.5-2 million and there are more than 1 million orphans. 
  1. HIV is not AIDS
  2. HIV causes AIDS
  3. Living positively basically means one tries to reduce HIV progression to AIDS
  4. AIDS is not the name of a particular disease but is a combination of many diseases in the body
Safety In Bed:
This is especially for you if you are HIV NEGATIVE and can keep to Abstinence or Faithfulness
  • Make sure the condom is safe even before removing it – Does not have air bubbles, is not expired, was not stored (at the shop) in a heated place, was not in your back pocket for long, don’t recycle!
  • Remove the condom carefully – Tear while holding the condom at the other end, Use fingertips to remove not using teeth, or nails
  • On removing check the condom – uniform colour ; thickness,well lubricated, no cracks, not discoloured or blistered
  • Check the side that unrolls easily and hold tip when unrolling to release air, and smooth the condom to release air bubbles
  • Make sure the bed is well spread.- Friction between the sheets and the condom may create small holes
  • Avoid hurried, vigorous or rough sex (stop and breathe). The friction causes wear and tear on the condom.
  • Stop sex before ejaculation- to remove the condom while still hard
  • Dispose in a pit, fire or bury- Don’t leave where your children or (heaven forbid) your wife or husband will find
why many don't rely on female condoms
 Facts You should Know:
  • Not as effective in HIV prevention [but excellent on family planning]
  • Expensive
Complaints: Irritations- Noisy and uncomfortable
knowing the enemy: 
What is it? How does it work? First, let’s see how it is tested: There are three methods that are used to test one’s HIV status: 
1. S/R – Simple Rapid
  • This method is FREE, it is offered in VCTs all around Kenya.
  • It is 97-98% accurate
  • It does not need a lab and takes about 7- 30 minutes.
2. E.L.I.S.A
  • It can handle large numbers
  • Has 98-99% accuracy
3.Western Bloc
  • We can call it ‘the mother of the rest’
  • Expensive (5000-7000) and precise
  • Takes about 7 day


When infected:
  1. Binding-
  • The HIV cell binds with a cell in the body called the CD4 cells( these are specialized lymphocytes that fight diseases and harmful microorganisms – yaani (-swahili for i.e) soldier cells.
  • The HIV and CD4 join though binding of GP120( HIV) and CD4 Receptor(CD4)
2. Fusion and Entry-
  • After binding with the CD4, the outer layers fuse and the virus pours its contents into the CD4 cell.
3. Intergration-
  • The HIV virus enters the body in R.N.A form (Ribonucleic Acid) and has to intergrate to DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) yaani it can not exist for long in the body in RNA form
  • It uses the CD4 nutrients to convert to DNA
4. Duplication-
  • It converts the CD4 cell into its factory hence multiplies using CD4 cytoplasm contents
5. Budding and Maturation-
  • Just like any other organism, the virus grows and has to leave home.
  • It’s components accumulate on the wall of the CD4 cell until it bursts open and releases them
  • Hence, CD4 destroyed and virus spreads

the stages of HIV

1. infection (primary) stage
  • This is obvious and needs no explanation. Infection either by sex, MTCT (mother to child transmission), infected blood transfusion, car accidents, or those 8 litres of saliva you drank etc
2. window stage
  • It takes approximately 3 months.
  • No symptoms will surface (yaani you do not look ill).
  • Even HIV test results are negative
  • This is the reason one is advised to visit the VCT every 3 months
3. sero- conversion stage
  • This period involves the body developing antibodies against HIV . (NB. During testing, the antibodies are what will show one has HIV)
  • No HIV related illnesses surface
4. asymptomatic stage
  • Lasts approximately 10 years ( Matters with personal care and Home based Care)
  • Tests result HIV +
  • One is free from HIV symptoms apart from the likes of swollen lymph glands
  • At this stage, the body struggles to maintain the virus
5. symptomatic stage
  • AIDS gradually develops
  • The immune system is damaged by the lengthy battle with the virus (  soldiers cells - are worn out)
  • Due to low immunity, many diseases (OIs) take the opportunity to attack the body.( this syndrome is what is called AIDS)
stay healthy: 
facts on VCT- Things you should know before entering a VCT (Voluntary Counselling and Testing) centre.These are both rights and restrictions you need to be aware of:
  • Voluntary- No one can force you to go to the VCT. no one
  • Counselling- One MUST be counseled before and after test
  • Confidential- If you prefer, NO ONE can know what took place at the VCT or your result.(not even your spouse)

factors that lead to aggressive growth of the virus:

 1. Age
 2. Type of HIV
  • There are two types of HIV; HIV 1 and HIV II.
  • HIV 1 is the more aggressive one and is found all over the world with many subtypes in it. The subtypes are also spread out in different places. They are the reason infected people are told not to have careless sex yet they already have HIV. This is because there is something called re- infection.( yaani you get infected with yet another subtype- you reduce your length of survival.
  • HIV II is mostly found in West Africa and is generally the less aggressive one.
3. Mode of transmission
  • Infection through sex takes longer to reach the blood circulation not like direct blood- blood transmission.
4. Health
  • How you take care of your health is also important, obviously
5. Other infections
  • Make sure to avoid infection of other diseases no matter how minor


  1. Stay healthy- Eat an energy rich diet and drink a lot of water (14 glasses)
  2. Exercise regularly
  3. Avoid re-infection through careless/ unsafe sexual activity
  4. Stay extra clean to avoid minor illnesses
  5. Visit the doctor regularly
  6. Avoid alcohol
  7. Avoid living in isolation
  8. Avoid getting pregnant unless under the scrutiny of your doctor. Giving birth reduces immunity.
  9. Avoid unprescribed medication
Nutrition -for all
  • Avoid fried food or frying your meals
  • Avoid large meals esp. at supper as it will be stored as fat
  • Reduce sugar and salt intake
  • Limit red meat and fatty foods
  • No Smoking
Stay Safe