HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that damages the immune system by infecting and destroying CD4 cells. If more and more CD4 cells are destroyed, the body’s immune system will be weakened so that it is vulnerable to various diseases.
HIV that is not treated immediately will develop into a serious condition called AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. At this stage, the body’s ability to fight infection is completely lost.
HIV transmission occurs through contact with patient body fluids, such as blood, sperm, vaginal fluids, anal fluids, and breast milk. Please note, HIV is not transmitted through air, water, sweat, tears, saliva, mosquito bites, or physical touch.
HIV is a lifelong disease. In other words, the HIV virus will remain in the patient’s body for the rest of his life. Although there is no treatment method to treat HIV, but there are drugs that can slow the progression of this disease and can increase the life expectancy of sufferers.
HIV and AIDS in Indonesia
Based on data from the Indonesian Ministry of Health in 2019, there were more than 50,000 cases of HIV infection in Indonesia. Of these, HIV cases are most common in heterosexuals, followed by male sex men (MSM) or homosexuals, injecting drug users (IDUs), and sex workers.
Meanwhile, the number of AIDS sufferers in Indonesia tends to increase. In 2019, there were more than 7,000 AIDS sufferers with more than 600 deaths.
However, from 2005 to 2019, the death rate from AIDS in Indonesia continued to decline. This indicates that treatment in Indonesia has succeeded in reducing the number of deaths from AIDS.
Symptoms of HIV and AIDS
Most sufferers experience a mild cold 2–6 weeks after becoming infected with HIV. The flu can be accompanied by other symptoms and can last for 1-2 weeks. After the flu improves, other symptoms may not be visible for years even though the HIV virus continues to damage the sufferer’s immune system, until HIV progresses to an advanced stage of AIDS.
In most cases, a person only finds out that he has HIV after seeing a doctor due to a serious illness caused by a weakened immune system. Serious illnesses include chronic diarrhea, pneumonia, or brain toxoplasmosis.
Causes and Risk Factors of HIV and AIDS
HIV transmission can occur through vaginal or anal sex, use of needles, and blood transfusions. Although rare, HIV can also be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
Some of the factors that can increase the risk of transmission are as follows:
- Having sex with multiple partners and without using protection
- Using a syringe together
- Doing work that involves contact with human body fluids without using adequate personal protective equipment
Consult a doctor if you suspect that you have been exposed to HIV through the methods above, especially if you experience flu symptoms within 2-6 weeks afterward.
Treatment of HIV and AIDS
Patients who have been diagnosed with HIV should immediately receive treatment in the form of antiretroviral therapy (ARV). ARVs work to prevent the HIV virus from multiplying so it doesn’t attack the immune system.
Prevention of HIV and AIDS
Here are some ways that can be done to avoid and minimize the transmission of HIV:
- Not having sex before marriage
- Do not change sexual partners
- Using a condom during sexual intercourse
- Avoiding drug use, especially injectable types
- Get the right information about HIV, how it is transmitted, prevention, and treatment, especially for teenagers