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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are two of the most significant health concerns affecting people globally. STIs are infections that can be transmitted through sexual contact, while HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, weakening the body’s ability to fight off infections and diseases. The spread of STIs and HIV can be prevented by practising safe sex, getting tested regularly, and seeking medical care when needed. Despite significant advances in prevention and treatment, STIs and HIV remain major public health challenges, particularly in under-resourced communities.
Meaning of STIS/HIV/AIDS
The term STIS stands for Sexually Transmitted Diseases
HIV refers to Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
HIV is a virus that can only infect human beings and weakens the immune system by destroying important cells that protect against disease and infections.
The final stage of HIV is AIDS, which is not inherited but acquired after birth through various means.
AIDS occurs when the body’s immune system is compromised, resulting in a collection of symptoms and signs of disease.
Causes of HIV/AIDS
There are several ways in which HIV can be transmitted:
- Contaminated blood transfusions, blood products, or tissue transplants
- Sexual intercourse with an infected individual
- Mother-to-child transmission, during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
- Contact with broken skin or open wounds of an infected person
- Deep open-mouth kissing with a person who has HIV and has sores or bleeding gums
- Eating food that has been pre-chewed by an infected individual, where the virus can be transferred through infected blood mixed with the food during chewing.
- The sharing of sharp objects, such as razor blades, needles, and barbering clippers, with someone who is infected with the virus
Effects of HIV/AIDS
- HIV/AIDS can result in a significant increase in medical expenses as individuals with the virus require ongoing treatment and care to manage their symptoms and maintain their health.
- As a result of their illness, individuals with HIV/AIDS may not be able to perform their work duties effectively, leading to a reduction in manpower for both the individual and their place of employment.
- The constant illnesses associated with HIV/AIDS can result in children being unable to attend school regularly, leading to an increase in the number of dropouts. The same applies to infected parents, who may eventually lose their jobs due to their inability to work effectively.
- HIV/AIDS can ultimately result in death.
- The stress and emotional burden of being infected with HIV/AIDS can put a strain on relationships, and in some cases may even lead to divorce.
- The constant physical and emotional challenges posed by HIV/AIDS can lead to psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, and feelings of hopelessness and isolation. These mental health issues can be deeply distressing and have a negative impact on the individual’s overall quality of life.
Preventive Measures for STI Is and HIV
- Practice abstinence or limit sexual activity: The most effective way to prevent STIs and HIV is to abstain from sexual activity. If you are sexually active, limiting the number of sexual partners can also reduce the risk.
- Use condoms: Use condoms correctly and consistently during all sexual activity, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex, to reduce the risk of STIs and HIV.
- Get vaccinated: Vaccines are available for some STIs, such as HPV and hepatitis B. Consider getting vaccinated to protect yourself from these infections.
- Communicate with sexual partners: Talk openly and honestly with sexual partners about STIs and HIV. Know your partner’s sexual history, and encourage them to get tested.
- Practice safer sex: In addition to using condoms, consider using other forms of protection such as dental dams and gloves during oral sex and manual stimulation.
- Get tested regularly: Get tested for STIs and HIV on a regular basis, especially if you have multiple sexual partners or engage in high-risk sexual behaviour.
- Avoid sharing needles: If you inject drugs, use a new, sterile needle every time to reduce the risk of HIV and other blood-borne infections.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs: Alcohol and drug use can impair judgment and increase the likelihood of engaging in high-risk sexual behaviour.
- Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands and genitals before and after sexual activity to reduce the risk of STIs and HIV.
- Seek treatment early: If you think you may have been exposed to an STI or HIV, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early treatment can prevent complications and reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others.