AIDS and the stigma revolving around it
Did you know that nearly 2 million people in India are the victims of AIDS disease? AIDS is an immunodeficiency disease acquired from bodily secretions of a person carrying HIV virus through infected needles, unsafe sex or from infected mother to baby. The virus attacks the body’s immune system and diminishes its ability to resist infections.
The symptoms of AIDS include :
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Weight loss
- Breathing difficulty
- Serious infections such as Pneumonia
Precautions to prevent HIV infection
- Avoid coming in close contact with the blood or other body fluids of HIV carriers.
- Avoid having sexual intercourse with people suffering from HIV and take precautions before sex.
- Needle sharing is a strict prohibition as there is a direct entry of the virus through the infected needle.
- Avoid close contact with infected cotton swabs, gauze pieces or any instrument used on an infected patient.
- Pregnant ladies should get themselves tested for HIV virus as it has the ability to pass to the baby through the amniotic fluid or breast milk.
- Medical professionals with a high risk of exposure to HIV should get themselves tested at least once as a part of the routine health check-up or more frequently in cases with higher risk factors.
The Stigma associated with HIV!
There always has been a societal pressure and stigma associated with the AIDS disease. HIV patients are often isolated from their local communities. This mostly stems from the concern of contracting the condition from the carrier. HIV patients are often discriminated at their workplace and many times there is an infringement of their confidentiality leaving them embarrassed.
How to deal with stigma & lead a normal life with AIDS
Yes, it is possible to lead a normal life with AIDS. Get in touch with your physician on a constant basis and take Anti-retroviral therapy as advised by the doctor without fail. Exercise and laughter therapy is the best remedy to cultivate a positive approach towards tackling the disease. Remember never take to alcohol consumption or smoking to deal with the social pressure. It only deteriorates the immune system further.
Government, corporates and local bodies need to come together and make joined efforts to spread a strong message across the society that AIDS doesn’t spread by shaking hands, hugging, or sitting next to the HIV patients. Workplace safety guidelines will encourage employers to hire HIV patients and non-discrimination policy will make the work environment free of harassment.
Building a strong spiritual foundation can help the patients surmount the physical pain. Support from the family members will act as an armour to shield against the HIV related stigma.