Uncovering the HIV

The only constant thing in this world is change. Whether one accept it or not, it is difficult to return the changed object back to its original form. Moreover, people are left with no other choice but to deal with it.

Get two glasses of clean water and label it as Glass 1 and Glass 2.  Also prepare paint and a stick for stirring.

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Next is to put aside the Glass 1 and pour paint into Glass 2. For the last step, stir the solution inside Glass 2.

One could say that the water is already contaminated just by merely looking at it. To preserve the clean Glass 1, it has to be kept away from any intervening impurity.

The retrieval of the clean water from Glass 2 is impossible considering its current state. Moreover, the paint has already invaded the system of the water, causing it too hard to separate.

It is a perfect representation of one of the renowned diseases nowadays – HIV.

On HIV

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Human immunodeficiency virus or commonly known as HIV is a disease that can be transmitted sexually. It is a virus that focuses on destroying one’s immune system. As it spreads throughout the body, the person becomes more vulnerable to other infections.

On HIV vs AIDS

People usually confuse themselves with these two terms: HIV and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). However, to explain in simple terms, HIV is a type of virus while the latter is a medical condition.

HIV is the cause of AIDS. On the other hand, AIDS serves as the last stage of HIV. It is the time when the patient already has a severe damaged immune system. Everyone should take note that not all HIV cases lead to AIDS.

On Symptoms

The symptoms that might appear are different from one case to another. There are events wherein a patient is not experiencing any symptoms at all during the early stage. On the other hand, some already experience the initial consequences of having the virus.

Early HIV symptoms may include the following:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle Aches
  • Rashes
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Joint Pain
  • Weight loss
  • White spots on the tongue or mouth

On acquiring the virus

The virus can infect a person through the transmission of body fluids. The possible ways acquiring the disease are as follows:

  • Unprotected Sexual Intercourse – a person could be infected if he is sexually active whether it is vaginal or anal. Moreover, if the patient has a number of sexual partners then the probability is very high.
  • Injections – the virus is also transferrable through used needles.
  • Blood transfusion – there are some cases wherein the patients are victim of HIV infected blood bags.
  • Pregnancy or breast-feeding – unfortunately, there are children that suffer the disease because of having HIV positive parents.
  • Occupational exposure – it is case when a victim obtained the virus in his own work place. A good example is that of doctors or nurses that attend to HIV patients.

On detecting the virus

In the Philippines, there are two stages of determining whether a person is positive or not. First is the use of SD BIOLINE HIV 1/2 3.0 Kit then followed by the confirmation done in STD AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory (SACCL).

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The testing kit is free. It functions like a pregnancy test. Unlike with the pregnancy test, certified HIV testers are the only allowed people to conduct and use the kit. In line with this, the kit is not available in the market unless the patient proceeds to a testing center.

The SACCL is the one responsible in providing the certification for those who wish to have the right in conducting the HIV test.

The following are the testing procedure using the SD BIOLINE HIV 1/2 3.0 Kit:

Remember that certified medical technologists by SACCL are the only people who are allowed to use the kit.

1. Prepare the kit and the assay diluent. Open the kit. There would be rectangle object inside and it is called as the cassette.

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2. Get a 10 µl or microliter of plasma or serum or 20 µl of blood.

  • Blood extraction is the way to get the plasma or serum. The blood must be placed in the violet and red container.

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  • The violet serves as container in order to get the plasma while the red one functions as the vessel for the serum. Then a machine will rotate the containers in order for the plasma or serum to rise in top of the blood. It would be easier to get the plasma or serum.

2. Using the micropipette, get the 10 µl of plasma or serum then place it in the circular apartment on the right side.

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3. Get the assay diluent and add four drops of it into the circular apartment. Always remember to hold the bottle vertically. Failure to do it can lead to inaccurate results.

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4. Then set a 20 minutes timer. Check the result in the first five minutes. After that, check again the results after 20 minutes. The checker must be particular with the 20-minute time span. Do not read the results after the said timeframe or it may result to false information.

The following are the ways to read the results:

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1. The control line on the left side must be visible. If the control line did not appear, then repeat the test. It is because there must be a problem with the test procedure.

Control

2. The color bands would appear on the right section. The color band identifies whether the patient is positive of HIV-1 or HIV-2. There are cases wherein the two color bands are visible. Therefore, the patient is positive of both HIV types.

HIV – 1

HIV 1

HIV – 2

HIV2

3. If the control line is the only line visible in the cassette, then the result is non-reactive. Even though this is the case, the result should not be considered as negative. It does not guarantee that the patient is already free from the virus. There would be three months of grace period before taking the exam again. It is to confirm whether the first result is really a negative one.

Control

If the patient is positive, then the result would not be released immediately. The results would be sent to SACCL for confirmatory. They would verify whether the results are valid or not. Moreover, it is very rare that the kit produced a positive one then the SACCL’s result is a negative.

The patient will already sign up the confirmatory request form. See sample below.

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The results would be released after 10 working days. HIV confirmatory testing is a free of charge. However, the confirmatory testing for other sexually transmitted diseases has a payment. Visit their page for the testing fees.

On testing centers, results

The places that offer HIV testing services are already spread out in the country. There are private and public testing centers. As for the public testing centers, it is free of charge and SACCL is one of those testing centers.

Every person who takes the test should receive a pre and post counseling. It helps the patient to prepare himself on what are the things that would come with having the test. The latter provides efficient aid for the patients on how to deal with their results.

It is advisable to visit a testing center especially if one is sexually active. Knowing that about personal’s status in HIV is very beneficial. If the patient is positive of the said disease, then medications must be issued. Second is the necessary precaution that can be implemented in line of preventing the virus to be obtained.

Majority of the population are scared to take the test because of privacy issues. Always remember that the test results will be kept confidential. The sharing of the result is only possible if the patient has provided a written permission.

Anonymous HIV test is also possible. It means that the name of the patient will not be written in the result form. A number or code is assigned instead of the patient’s real name. Rest assured that none of the records would lead to the patient.

On Misconceptions

There are beliefs about HIV that most people think is true. People should learn to fact check their information to avoid misleading ones. The following are misconceptions about HIV that should be considered at most.

  • Stop using condom when both of you are positive – Remember there different types of HIV and it can be transmitted without the use of condom
  • HIV can be acquired just being around with the positive patients – the virus can only be transmitted through body fluids
  • Straight people are safe from the Virus – Unfortunately, the virus is not exclusive for homosexual.
  • The medications are enough so that one can’t spread the virus – The medicine might help in suppressing the virus but it still hides in some parts of the body
  • One’s partner is negative of HIV. Therefore, it is safe to have unprotected sex – Take note that there are cases wherein the virus cannot be easily detected. It needs grace period in order to be identifiable.
  • Oral sex is an HIV free type of sex – It may be less risky but it is still possible. It is advisable to use latex barrier in having oral sex.
  • HIV infections can be cured by having sex with a virgin – There’s still no cure for the disease
  • HIV can be transmitted through saliva – It is true that HIV can be found in saliva. However, it has a small amount to infect others.

On a Personal View of HIV

According to the Department of Health (DOH), there are 5 965 patients undergoing the anti-retroviral therapy (ARV). It is a combination of drugs that stops the aggressive advancement of HIV. Jay Wheeler is just one of them. It has been a year since he discovered about his condition.

“To be honest I felt depressed, helpless and hopeless. This is normal to people newly diagnosed with HIV, because the stigma in society suggests that HIV infection is no different to a death sentence.” said Wheeler. He discussed the depressing feeling in being caught in the middle of the stigma.

According to Wheeler, he simply just accepted that he is HIV positive instead of dwelling on it so much. He also mentioned that thinking about the negative side of it would do no good to him.

In having the disease, the constant fear of dying early is always there. The struggle in enduring the side effects of the medication is one of the problems faced by Jay Wheeler.

“My ARV was my first line of defense against the virus, though at first the side effects were overwhelming, in time I managed to cope with it to the point that there are virtually no side effects. I was diagnosed with AIDS already at a cd4 count of 182 (normal range is500-1500, clinical AIDS is below 200) after a year of therapy, my cd4 is now 504 and counting.” he added (Kuya Kev, huwag mong pansinin toh, important kasi toh. Haha)

Wheeler wants to remind his colleagues to keep on fighting. It is not yet the end of the world. He reminds them that one day there would be a cure to it.

“HIV is not the problem; AIDS is not the problem either. Ignorance is. The only way to win the fight against HIV/AIDS is to be well informed. Ignorance is poison to the common mind,” said HIV Positive Jay Wheeler.

References:

Sources:

Arnet Magpantay, Licensed Medical Technologist and Certified HIV Tester

http://saccl.doh.gov.ph/

http://www.pnac.org.ph/index.php?page=hiv-aids-101

http://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/17131.php

http://www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/health-article/6260

http://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/top-10-myths-misconceptions-about-hiv-aids

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/590915/hiv-cases-rose-43-to-486-in-february-16-aids-deaths-reported-doh

http://www.mddoctorsdirect.com/sites/default/files/HIV1-2.2.pdf

– Christian

 

 

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