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World AIDS Day 2021: How To Take Care Of HIV Positive Family Member Or If You Are An HIV Patient

World AIDS Day is celebrated every year on 1 December to raise awareness of this chronic viral disease. Support people with HIV and stand in the fight against the condition.

Caring for or living with HIV positive individuals can be challenging. According to a study, people with HIV infection are not dangerous to people who live with them at home or in a community or with who they have non-sexual relationships. Though certain precautions in terms of using personal items like razors, earrings and toothbrushes must be strictly followed to minimise the risk of the infection. [1]

Nutritional need is also important for people with HIV and hence, nutritional education must be given to both HIV infected person and their caretakers. In this article, we will discuss how to live with people with HIV. This might help achieve longevity and improve the quality of lives of HIV patients.


Problems Faced By People Living With HIV

With the introduction of advanced treatment methods for people suffering from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) caused due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), there has been a lot of increase in the survival rates of the patients.

However, in many ways, these people face various socioeconomic problems, along with physical problems, which tend to increase the burden on individuals, families, communities and even the government.

HIV is a lifelong disease and its symptoms tend to worsen with time if not managed properly. Along with suffering from the infection symptoms, they also struggle from a number of social problems such as poverty, stigma, depression, cultural beliefs and substance abuse.

Unemployment is another issue that makes the lives of HIV-positive individuals difficult in terms of supporting their medical bills or fulfilling other financial needs.
Together, these factors lower the quality of life of patients with HIV from both the mental and social health points of view. [2]


How HIV Infection Is Transmitted?

HIV infection is transmitted from an infected person to a healthy individual when the latter comes in direct contact with the bodily fluids of the prior. This is because these body fluids carry the detectable viral load and can spread once come in contact with the body fluids of another person.

The body fluids include:

  • Semen, including pre-seminal fluid
  • Blood
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Breast milk
  • Rectal fluids
  • HIV spread from person to person when any of these fluids are involved by ways such as: [3]

    • Having anal or vaginal sex with an HIV-positive person.
    • Sharing injection with an HIV-positive person.
    • Sharing personal belongings which may be contaminated with the infected person's body fluids.
    • Mother to child during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
    • Blood transfusion or organ transplant.
    • Contact between your deep wounds and the blood of an HIV-positive person.
    • Kissing the HIV-positive person when they have sores or bleeding gums.
    • How HIV Infection Is Not Transmitted

      People living with HIV are often concerned about their health and the health of the other members of the families due to the virus spread. They must be aware that HIV infection is not spread by means like: [4]

      • Sharing utensils such as cups or plates.
      • Sharing food and water (except for sharing food that is chewed by the HIV patient).
      • Touching an HIV-infected person.
      • Hugging an HIV-infected person.
      • Shaking hands or holding an HIV-infected person.
      • By mosquitoes or bites of insects.
      • By sharing toilets.
      • Sexual activities that do not include sharing of body fluids like touching.

How To Take Care Of Yourself If You Have HIV Infection?

People with HIV should be aware of ways in which they can prevent the virus from spreading to others and also keep themselves healthy. The ways include:

  • Avoid sharing your personal items or using other individuals' personal belongings such as towels, toothbrushes or razors.
  • Avoid coming in contact with food-borne diseases by minimising consumption of raw and undercooked foods like eggs, meats and unpasteurised milk. [5]
  • Limit contact with people who are suffering from flu, colds or diarrhoea.
  • Avoid coming in contact with litter boxes of pets or cages.
  • Maintain proper bed timing and sleep for at least eight hours every day.
  • Make ways to reduce your stress by talking to family and friends or supporting groups or indulging in your favourite activities like painting. [6]
  • Avoid having sexual contact with anyone or consult a medical expert on ways how to indulge in safe sex. [7]
  • Start your day with a positive attitude and be kind towards yourself
  • Perform mild exercises daily.
  • Quit smoking and drinking.
  • Pay special attention to your food and eat a nutritious diet.
  • Consult your medical expert for any advice or any problems.
  • Remember, it is okay to ask for help and accept it when offered by others.

How To Take Care Of People Living With HIV?

Taking care of an individual living with HIV is not an easy task as often, more than the patient, the carer faces stress and problems in supporting them. The caretakers need to understand the need of the patient along with their needs and other members of the family.

The caretakers should maintain a balance between being overprotective and helping the patient learn how to be independent despite their condition.

Some of the ways to take care of people living with HIV include:

1. Talking and listening

Talk to people living with HIV about the problem they face and how to deal with those problems. Remember not to force them to open up about their problems and talk to them only when they are ready to share. And when they share anything with you, learn to listen to them patiently and offer your support. Also, make sure the conversation is honest.

2. Helping with diet

People with HIV may need to avoid some of their favourite foods due to their lifelong treatment. In this case, talk to them about the foods they like and also give information on what kind of foods they need to include in their daily diet for their good health. [8]

3. Watching out for their health

The caretakers need to watch out for any changes of physical symptoms in people with HIV. It may include the weight of the patient, their glucose levels, any signs of weakness or their eye health. They should also keep a watch on the medicines they are taking and make sure that no new medicines they are taking without consulting a doctor.

4. Being encouraging

Caretakers must be supporting, loving and encouraging towards their HIV-positive family or friends. They should be able to reassure them that HIV is a manageable disease and some medicines could help manage their condition to a great extent and keep them healthy for life. Also, people with HIV may often refuse their food or medicines, therefore, the caretakers must be able to handle their moods with care and not punish them. [9]

5. Maintaining hygiene at home

A hygienic and clean environment at home is critical to reducing the transmission of infection and to preventing the spread of the disease. Also, maintain hand hygiene by washing hands frequently.

To Conclude

Suicide is a complex clinical issue often associated with HIV infection due to the stigma and fear spread in society. Depression or other psychiatric disorders come secondary in the list of complications linked to AIDS.

It must be remembered that treatment of HIV or its healthy lifelong management is highly possible in the present era. Also, people must be educated about HIV infection so that they may not face any difficulties in living with the condition or taking care of people living with HIV.

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