HIV/AIDS Prevention and Telemedicine – Jamaica Observer
Practicing safer sex using contraceptives such as condoms is one way to avoid contracting HIV.Pixabay
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a life-threatening chronic disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). AIDS cannot be transmitted from person to person, but HIV can.
HIV is a sexually transmitted disease and is transmitted mainly from person to person through the vagina and anus. However, it can also be spread through contact with HIV-infected blood and the illegal use and sharing of needles for drugs and other activities. Unfortunately, the virus can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat, urine or saliva. It works by damaging your immune system and interfering with your body’s ability to fight infection and disease.
Without treatment, HIV can still take several years before it weakens your system to the point that you are diagnosed with AIDS. However, with early diagnosis and effective treatment, many people living with HIV will not develop AIDS-related illnesses and can live long, healthy lives.
What are the symptoms of HIV/AIDS?
Most people infected with HIV will experience a short-term flu-like illness two to six weeks after being infected, which will then last for up to two weeks afterwards. After these symptoms disappear, HIV may not cause any symptoms for many years, even though it continues to damage your immune system. This means that many people infected with HIV do not know they are infected unless they have been tested.
Possible signs and symptoms of HIV include:
• Articular pain
• Painful mouth sores
• Night sweats
• Swollen lymph nodes
If HIV then progresses to AIDS, you may notice many of the same symptoms as above, but additional symptoms may include:
• Chronic diarrhea
• Extreme and persistent fatigue
• Unusual white spots or sores on your tongue or inside your mouth
How do I get tested for HIV/AIDS?
The only way to be sure you have HIV/AIDS is to have a lab test. Many symptoms of HIV represent other illnesses, so the only way to be sure is to get tested. You can then start treatment, if necessary. HIV testing involves a blood test or testing your saliva for signs of infection.
There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS. However, the goal of HIV treatment is to have an undetectable viral load when tested. This means that the level of HIV virus in your body is low enough not to be detected by a test.
What should I do to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS?
Here are ways you can personally avoid becoming infected with HIV/AIDS.
1) Abstain from sex
2) Practice safer sex (eg using contraceptives such as condoms)
3) Get tested regularly for STDs (every three to six months for sexually active people)
4) Be monogamous/limit your number of sexual partners
5) Never share your needles
6) Talk to your doctor about post-exposure prophylaxis (PRP) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PREP) medications.
How can telemedicine contribute to the prevention of HIV/AIDS?
Telemedicine platforms such as MDLink are an important resource for HIV/AIDS prevention in our population. Some of the benefits of telemedicine for HIV/AIDS prevention include:
Knowledge transfer: you can use this platform to virtually talk to your doctor for prevention advice such as how to use contraception and which one is best for you and your sexual partner(s), what symptoms to look out for and when to get tested. Also, if you or your partner have already been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, your doctor can help guide you on how to continue to enjoy sex without putting your loved one and future children at risk. (if you wish it) .
ordersIf you know you may be at risk of contracting HIV, sexually or otherwise, your doctor can easily send you a prescription for PREP/PEP medication. Also, if you are already diagnosed with the virus, you can get treatment without having to go to the doctor, but from the safety and comfort of your home.
Early diagnosis: having telemedicine as a first step in the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS can ensure that you get quality and accurate advice to guide you towards a diagnosis or not. If you are diagnosed, an early diagnosis can mean you start treatment sooner, which can then improve your chances of controlling the virus, reduce your risk of getting sicker, and also reduce your chances of passing the virus on to others. .
Followed: If you have already been diagnosed and treated for HIV/AIDS, telemedicine is a useful tool to engage you throughout your treatment. If your symptoms aren’t urgent but you still need a routine check-in with your doctor, platforms like MDLink make these follow-up sessions extremely convenient and easy. You can talk to your doctor about any new symptoms, discuss how the treatment worked for you (or not), and even get prescription refills without setting foot in a doctor’s office. These follow-ups can be facilitated by voice call, text call, and video call, whichever you prefer and are most comfortable with.
MDLink also offers drive-through lab testing. This gives you the opportunity to get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases from the comfort of your vehicle and without the inconvenience of long queues and waiting rooms. Plus, there’s a doctor on site that you can see if you need to.
HIV/AIDS is a lifelong disease. That doesn’t mean you can’t still have a long, comfortable, and productive life. Platforms such as MDLink allow your treatment to adapt to the constant technological evolution and there are many more advantages than disadvantages. Plus, it gives you access to all the resources you need to keep you and your loved ones from being at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Ché Bowen, digital health entrepreneur and family physician, is the CEO and founder of MDLink, a digital health company that provides telemedicine options. Visit the Company’s website at www.theMDLink.com. You can also contact him at [email protected]