• Gülşah Gürsoy

HIV/AIDS and Adolescence

Despite the developments and advancements in health care systems and technology around the world, there are still many cases and deaths related to HIV/AIDS disease.

To understand better the subject and in fighting against the disease, we should know that information is power and be aware of the risks especially young people. The foremost important thing to remember always is that HIV and AIDS are not the same thing.

(Image courtesy of google images)

HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus starts by killing the white cells (CD4 cells) in our blood. These cells protect our bodies from infections and when HIV attacks them, our body’s immune system becomes weaker and weaker against any kind of illness because the body is not powerful enough to fight the diseases if there is no treatment obtained.

The Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or in short AIDS is the last stage of having an untreated HIV infection which results in the virus’s spread to the whole body. It is important to note here that infected people do not die of HIV or AIDS directly but rather they usually die of the opportunistic infections that they get due to decreased immunity.

It is possible living with HIV unfortunately, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS yet but infected people use medicines to slow down the malicious virus by an antiretroviral therapy (ARV) which requires taking continuous dosage of the medicine to prevent the virus from multiplying fast. This treatment starts immediately after diagnosis so patients continue with their normal lives.

In Tanzania, one of the most common versions of transmission of HIV is mother-to-child. Women have to take HIV test when they get pregnant, and if they carry the virus, they must start treatment immediately to stop the virus from affecting the baby too. (Image courtesy of google image)

Unprotected sex is another way of the virus infection. Anyone having unprotected sex is under the risk and the amount of infected women is higher than men. This is because women are exposed to risky sexual activity more often than men for example sex workers, young girls who have sex with older men etc.

For young adults sex at early age creates big risk of HIV infection, because most of the time the young people are not aware of sexually transmitted diseases, and they also do not know that they must use protection like condom to avoid infections.

(Image courtesy of google images)

Condoms prevent sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and prevent women from getting pregnant. It is very important for young girls to be aware of what kind of relationships they have with their boyfriends; they need to know that if they have unprotected sex there might be very heavy consequences. If they do not feel ready for having sex, they need to explain this to their partners.

HIV/AIDS infection is bad news for everyone but it is not the end of the world, young or old everybody can continue living with it. When a person feels the symptoms such as being tired all of the time, swollen lymph nodes in your neck or groin, fever that lasts for more than 10 days, night sweats unexplained weight loss or purplish spots on skin that don't go away, then they must immediately see a doctor for a HIV test.

(Image courtesy of google images)

It might be harder for young people to be tested and receive therapy out of fear of talking to their parents about it however, they should be open about it and ask for support from family and friends. Otherwise, it is even harder to cope with the disease and continue a normal life. They should be responsible about the therapy if they are infected too. Young people must be very careful about sexual activities to protect themselves from HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.

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