HIV & AIDS
National AIDS Helpline – 0800 012 322
RAPE VICTIMS who are HIV negative
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV
If you know that you are HIV negative or think you are HIV negative it is essential that you get PEP within 72 hours of being raped.
The sooner you start with PEP the more effective they are.
Call 0800 012 322 (Nation-wide, 24-hours a day) right now to find the closest place for you to get free PEP.
If a survivor is given PEP, the chance of contracting HIV is reduced by about 81%.
To prevent pregnancy you need to start emergency contraception within 72 hours of being raped, call 0800 246 432 for help.
Evidence for convicting the rapist should be collected within 72 hours of being raped (contact your nearest police station).
PLEASE NOTE: Please remember that this information is not intended to replace medical treatments or medical advice from your doctor or clinic.
HIV+ DOES NOT MEAN DEATH
Being HIV positive does not mean death. David Patient has been living a healthy life with HIV since 1983.
Many people are living healthy lives and are HIV positive.
You have a choice to do the same.
You may believe that if you have HIV you will die from AIDS. This is not necessarily true. You can live a healthy and long life with the HIV virus. Although many people do indeed die from AIDS, there are also those HIV-positive people who do not get ill and die from AIDS.
Presently, about 5 people out of 100 HIV-positive people do not get ill from AIDS, even 15 to 20 years after infection. These people are called long-term survivors.
There are even some long-term survivors who were very ill from AIDS, and who have regained their health, and have stayed healthy since. If you take care of yourself and follow some simple suggestions from long-term survivors, you may be one of those who stays healthy for many years.
AIDS HELPLINE SOUTH AFRICA
National AIDS Helpline 0800 012 322
The National AIDS Helpline provides a confidential, anonymous 24-hour toll-free telephone counselling, information and referral service for those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. The Helpline was initiated in 1991 and is a partnership of the Department of Health and LifeLine Southern Africa. The Helpline, manned by trained lay-counsellors, receives an average of 3,000 calls per day, and is seen as a leading telephone counselling service within the SADC region.
Services Offered by the AIDS Helpline:
• Information: The Line creates a free and easy access point for information on HIV and AIDS to any member of the public, in all of the 11 official languages, at any time of the day or night.
• Telephone Counselling: trained lay-counsellors offer more than mere facts to the caller. They are able to provide counselling to those battling to cope with all the emotional consequences of the pandemic.
• Referral Services: Both the South African Government and its NGO sector have created a large network of service points to provide a large range of services (including Voluntary Counselling and Testing, medical and social services) to the public. The AIDS Helpline will assist the caller to contact and use these facilities. The National AIDS Helpline works closely with the South African HIV Clinician’s Society to update and maintain the Karabo Referral Database.
• Treatment Line: A specialised service of the AIDS Helpline, the Treatment Line is manned by Professional Nurses. They provide quality, accurate and anonymous telephone information and/or education on antiretroviral, TB and STI treatment. They also provide relevant specialised medical referrals to individuals affected and infected by HIV and AIDS in South Africa.
♥ Positive Health Booklet:
The Positive Health booklet takes a fresh look at healthy living for people who are living with or affected by HIV & AIDS – whether on AIDS medication or not. Positive Health is written in simple language and offers useful information like where to get your daily vitamin requirements. The booklet has been written by Neil Orr (a Research Psychologist) and David Patient, who has been living a healthy life with HIV since 1983. For your free copy of the booklet, please email Renee Sabor on firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 021-940-5275.
♥ SOUTH AFRICA HELPLINES:
• AIDS Helpline 0800 012 322
• Rape Crisis Helpline 083 484 9409
♥ WORLDWIDE HELPLINES:
You can find a 24-hour help line near you worldwide
Other Good Websites:
♥ The Well Project
Very informative American site with chat rooms and lots of info.
♥ Red Ribbon Project
The Gift of AIDS: CLICK HERE
♥ You can write to us confidentially TELL US YOUR STORY
THERE ARE THREE AREAS IN KEEPING HEALTHY
♥ A healthy body – involving your diet, exercise and some home remedies
♥ A healthy mind – involving dealing with stress and emotions effectively
♥ A healthy soul – involving healing your spirit
Health is not about knowing all the facts – it is about wanting to be alive, and therefore using knowledge to achieve that.
HOW LONG-TERM SURVIVORS DID IT
♥ They accept that the virus is in their bodies
♥ They eat properly and regularly
♥ They lead active lives, they do not give up and they take time to relax
♥ They grow stronger as a result of rejection, death and upsetting events
♥ They have strong spiritual beliefs and values
♥ They talk to the HIV in their body and form an agreement with it
♥ They strive to make the world a better place to live in, for themselves and for other people
♥ They are honest about thoughts and feelings, and they express their feelings
♥ They do not believe that they are being punished by God
♥ They believe that HIV and AIDS is simply a challenge to be faced and dealt with as best they can
♥ They focus their attention on the future, and not the past
♥ They make an effort to educate themselves about what HIV and AIDS is
MYTHS AND TRUTHS
Now lets clear up some myths about HIV and AIDS:
Believing myths can result in fear, in denial, and can lead to damaging your health and other peoples health.
TRUTH: Any type of sexual activity with an infected person carries a risk of HIV transmission.
The myth: “HIV doesn’t cause AIDS.”
The reality: If you don’t have HIV, you don’t get AIDS. If you have AIDS, you have HIV. There is 20 years of solid scientific proof on this. AIDS is not caused by party drugs, AZT, government conspiracies or anything else but a virus.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
While many viruses can be controlled by the immune system, HIV targets and infects the same immune system cells that are supposed to protect us from illnesses. These are a type of white blood cell called CD4 cells. HIV takes over CD4 cells and turns them into virus factories that produce thousands of viral copies. As the virus grows, it damages or kills CD4 cells, weakening the immune system.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection.
HIV causes AIDS by attacking the immune system’s soldiers – the CD4 cells.
When the immune system loses too many CD4 cells, you are less able to fight off infection and can develop serious, often deadly, infections. These are called opportunistic infections because they take advantage of the body’s weakened defenses. When someone dies of AIDS, it is usually opportunistic infections or other long-term effects of HIV infection that cause death.
AIDS refers to the body’s immune-compromised state that can no longer stop opportunistic infections from developing and becoming so deadly. You don’t have AIDS as soon as you are infected with HIV. You can be HIV+ for many years with no signs of disease, or only mild-to-moderate symptoms. But without treatment, HIV will eventually wear down the immune system in most people to the point that they develop more serious opportunistic infections.
The myth: “HIV can be spread through tears, sweat, mosquitoes, pools or casual contact.”
The reality: HIV can only be transmitted through infected blood (including menstrual blood), semen and other male sexual fluids (“pre-cum”), vaginal fluids and breast milk. The most common ways for HIV to be transmitted are through unprotected sexual contact and/or sharing needles with an HIV+ person. HIV can also be passed from mother to baby.
The following “bodily fluids” are NOT infectious: Tears, Sweat, Saliva, Urine, Feces.
Remember, HIV is not transmitted if it does not include contact with blood or other infectious body fluids.
HIV is not transmitted by: social kissing, public venues (pools, theaters, bathrooms), sharing drinks or eating utensils, hugs, dancing, sharing pots, sharing food or drinks, using a shower, bath, using the same toilet or chair, exercise equipment or bed used by an HIV+ person, kissing (between people with no significant dental problems) etc. Insect bites do not transmit HIV. Vomit, faeces, tears and urine do not transmit HIV (There is not enough HIV in these body substances to infect anyone else).
Wounds and Cuts: HIV can be spread through blood: There are a few isolated cases of people infected from using a razor that had just been used by an HIV+ person or in other off-beat ways. For instance, there is a documented case of transmission from deep or “French” kissing – in two people who had terrible dental problems. The odds of getting HIV from kissing is extremely low. There has to be an exchange of blood for HIV to be transmitted. If you participate in a traditional ceremony where you are cut with a blade, ensure that the same blade is not used on someone else.
♥ Clean the wound with clean water and an antiseptic. Cover the wound with a bandage or plaster. You cannot infect someone else if you do this.
HIV can be spread through re-using and sharing needles: Many HIV infections occur when people share needles to inject heroin, methamphetamine, or other drugs. This risk can be greatly reduced by cleaning needles with a bleach solution before re-using them. The risk can be eliminated by using fresh needles each time. Many cities now offer free needle exchange programs.
HIV can be spread through tattoo and body piercing: When getting a tattoo or body piercing, always go to a licensed professional and make sure the equipment is autoclaved, not just “sterilized” with alcohol.
HIV can be spread through un-protected/unsafe sex: Every sexual act that involves sexual fluids of some kind has at least some risk. Barriers, such as condoms (male and female), dental dams, latex gloves, and even plastic food wrap (such as Saran Wrap), help reduce risk substantially.
Unsafe sex (sex without condoms or barriers) puts you and your partner at risk for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Safer sex (sex using condoms or other barriers correctly and consistently) protects you and your partner. Receptive anal sex (“bottoming”) remains the most risky activity, due to the likelihood of direct semen-blood contact. But penetrative anal sex (“topping”) with someone can result in HIV transmission, too. Vaginal intercourse puts both partners at risk, but HIV is transmitted from men to women much more easily than from women to men. Oral sex can be risky for the person performing it, particularly if he or she swallows semen, vaginal fluids, or menstrual fluids. Sharing sex toys without sterilizing them can be dangerous.
Rimming (licking the anus) is very unlikely to result in HIV infection. Mutual masturbation (hand jobs) and fisting (using a hand to penetrate the anus or vagina) are relatively risk-free, as long as your hand has no open cuts or sores.
HIV can be spread through mother-to-child transmission: HIV+ mothers can pass the virus to their babies while pregnant, during birth, or by breastfeeding. New medical techniques have almost eliminated the risk of a baby getting HIV from its mother when precautions are taken. HIV+ mothers should not breastfeed their babies.
HIV can be spread through sharing tooth brushes and shaving blades with someone.
The myth: “It’s not AIDS that kills people, it’s the medicines they take!”
The reality: HIV medications, known as antiretrovirals, don’t cure HIV, but they can help keep people healthy for a longer time. People died from AIDS before AZT or any other drugs came out. In fact, death rates have gone down a great deal in the U.S. since new HIV medications came out in the mid-nineties. Unfortunately, the drugs do have side effects and toxicities (for some people) which in very rare cases have resulted in death.
The myth: “The ‘AIDS test’ can’t be trusted.”
The reality: The ‘AIDS test’ measures your body’s response to HIV, called antibodies. The HIV antibody test (called ELISA) is one of the most reliable medical tests. A positive result means your body has developed antibodies for HIV, so you are infected with the virus. To be completely certain, positive results are confirmed with a more sensitive test called the Western blot.
A negative result means your body has not developed antibodies and is probably not infected. To get truly accurate results, it’s necessary to be tested three and then also six months after your last possible exposure to the virus. That is because the immune system can take anywhere from three to twelve weeks to make antibodies. In this “window period,” someone may get an unclear result or a false negative. That is why it is important to be tested again 3 months after possible exposure to the virus.
The myth: “Viral load tests don’t really tell anything about a person’s health.”
The reality: Viral load measures the amount of HIV in a person’s blood. Many studies have shown that people with high viral loads are much more likely to become ill or die than those with low viral loads.
The myth: “Straight people don’t get HIV.”
The reality: The majority of HIV+ people worldwide are heterosexual. Men infect women, and women infect men. Risk is not about labels, it is about behavior. A ‘straight’ woman who has unprotected sex with men is at more risk for HIV than a ‘gay’ man who always practices safe sex.
The myth: “I’m safe because I’m in a monogamous relationship (or married).”
The reality: Were you tested for HIV before you got into the relationship? Was your partner? Were both tests negative? And do you spend 24 hours a day together? If you’re faithful, but he or she is not, or he or she was already HIV+ before you met, you can still get HIV.
The myth: “I’m safe because I’m a virgin.”
The reality: Again, virgin is just a label. If you have had no sexual contact at all, you’re fine. If you have had oral or anal sex, but consider yourself a ‘virgin’ because you haven’t had vaginal sex, you are still at risk.
The myth: “Lesbians don’t get HIV.”
The reality: Women who only have sex with women are generally at lower risk, because of the sexual activities they engage in. But they can still get HIV. A recent case was reported where a lesbian was infected through sharing sex toys with her HIV+ partner. Also, many women who consider themselves lesbians occasionally have sex with men, and can get infected that way.
The myth: “You can’t get HIV from oral sex.”
The reality: The likelihood of HIV being transmitted from an HIV+ person to an HIV- person depends on the type of contact. HIV is most easily transmitted through unprotected (no condoms) anal sex, unprotected vaginal sex, and sharing injection drug equipment. Oral sex has been shown to be less risky than these activities, but it is not risk free. It is also possible to get other sexually-transmitted diseases (such as syphilis, herpes, and gonorrhea) through oral sex. Even though oral sex is a lower-risk activity, there have been reports of people being infected with HIV in this way. A number of studies have tried to determine the exact level of risk of oral sex, but it can be difficult to get accurate information from study participants. Since most people don’t just have oral sex, it is also difficult to single out oral sex as the definite way HIV was transmitted. Because of these issues, different studies have reported different levels of risk ranging from less than 1 percent to about 8 percent. The Options Project in San Francisco conducted one recent study. They found that about 8 percent of recently-infected men who have sex with men were probably infected through oral sex. Most of these men believed that the risk was very low or non-existent. At least half of the men in the study who were likely infected through oral sex had gum disease or an oral ulcer. In addition, most of the men engaged in oral sex that included ejaculation (receiving cum in the mouth). According to the results of a survey of newly-diagnosed patients in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, oral sex probably accounts for about 3 percent of HIV infections in men who have sex with men. The take home message of these studies is that oral sex carries a small but real risk, especially if you have bad oral hygiene (bleeding gums, ulcers, gum disease) and take ejaculate in your mouth.
Tips for safer oral sex
There are things you can do to reduce the risk of oral sex:
♥ Don’t have oral sex if you or your partner has mouth sores (such as oral herpes lesions).
♥ Discreetly inspect your partner’s genitals for lesions.
If you find something, don’t believe your partner if he or she tells you it was caused by “the heat,” or “the weather,” or “the clothes.” You should avoid any contact with the area until a doctor has examined it.
♥ Don’t floss, brush your teeth, or engage in any behavior that would create abrasions or cuts in your mouth prior to performing oral sex. Use mouthwash or a breath mint instead.
♥ Avoid swallowing pre-cum, semen, or vaginal fluids.
♥ Use latex condoms for oral sex on a man (try the unlubricated, flavored ones).
♥ If you perform oral sex without a condom, finish up with the hand, or spit semen out and rinse with a mouthwash rather than swallowing.
♥ Use a dental dam for oral sex on a woman or for rimming (licking the anus).
Dental dams are large squares made from latex. Plastic food wrap (not microwave-style plastic wrap) is just as effective. Put some water-based lube on one side of the dam or plastic wrap. Then stretch the dam over the vagina or anus with the lubed side facing down. This gives you a thin barrier between your mouth and the vagina or anus.
♥ Avoid vaginal oral sex during menstruation to prevent contact with blood.
♥ Look after your mouth. The likelihood of oral HIV transmission increases if you have bleeding gums, ulcers, cuts, sores or infections in the mouth.
♥ Find alternatives (Massage your partner, use caresses, or mutual masturbation. Use a vibrator (use a condom when sharing the vibrator).
♥ Avoid vigorous, prolonged oral sex (“deep-throating”).
♥ Avoid mouth or throat trauma caused by a large number of partners in a short period of time.
The myth: “My partner and I are both HIV positive so we don’t have to worry.”
The reality: Safer sex isn’t only for the prevention of new HIV infections. It’s important for positives, too. A couple where both partners are HIV+ can use safer sex to prevent co-infection with other STD’s that can weaken the immune system. Safer sex can also reduce the possibility of getting reinfected (also called superinfected) with a strain of HIV that is resistant to the drug regimen you are taking. Since every sexual act that involves sexual fluids has at least some risk, safer sex means using barriers every time. Barriers include condoms (male and female), dental dams, latex gloves, and even plastic food wrap (not microwave-style plastic wrap). Barriers help reduce risk substantially. Even though it is the safest thing to do, some couples do not always use barriers. If this is the case, you can still practice some kind of harm reduction. Sometimes the place to start in safer sex is to identify the riskiest thing you do and then think about how you could make that activity less risky.
Penetrative Sex (sex in anus or vagina): Penetrative sex is considered the highest-risk activity. For both vaginal and anal sex, use latex condoms and lots of water-based lubricant (lube) to prevent the condom from breaking. Lube also helps condoms feel better. If you’re not going to use condoms, try to reduce the friction by using a heavier lube that will help prevent small cuts or tears in the vagina, rectum or penis. (Because you’re not using latex, Vaseline or Crisco are better than water-based lubes since they last longer.) Also avoid getting semen in the body by having the man pull out before cumming.
If you or your partner is HIV+, you should decide what steps to take to make all types of sex as safe as possible. If you would like to discuss these issues, call the AIDS Helpline 0800 012 322.
Taking Care of Yourself And Others
Myths about HIV are very dangerous. They can cause you to be afraid of something that is not dangerous. And they can make you feel like something is not dangerous when it really is!