Ask Katie: AIDS awareness

'A Closer Walk' examines the worldwide AIDS crisis.

‘A Closer Walk’ examines the worldwide AIDS crisis.


In the month of December, we wanted to focus on personal health as well as expanding our world view. With finals approaching, it is important to focus our attention on our own health.

Healthy sleep is a crucial component to an overall healthy life. Included below are some facts about how to achieve a better night’s sleep as well as information regarding an event put on by Ask Katie regarding healthy sleep. The other topic we focused on this month was AIDS. Regardless of whether or not if AIDS has affected us personally, it has become a world problem. We have included information about this syndrome to help teach how to prevent, as well as what is being done to treat it. Ask Katie also encourages you to watch the film, “A Closer Walk” if you would like to learn more information about the AIDS epidemic.

One of the December events presented by the Ask Katie Peer Educators focused on AIDs and HIV, as Dec. 1 was World AIDS day. Ask Katie and the Public Health Club will showed a movie with a guest speaker following the movie.

The Facts Are:
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDs (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) are completely different things. HIV is a virus that causes infection and attacks our immune system, and if not treated right away can lead to AIDS. AIDS is a condition that happens when somebody is not treated for HIV. Both of these diagnoses can lead to a person becoming very ill, however, they can be controlled with medication. There is still not a cure for HIV/AIDS.

● At the end of 2014, 37-40 percent people were being treated for HIV/AIDS worldwide
● It is illegal to knowingly pass along HIV
● Eliminating the transmission from mother to child is the biggest priority for the AIDS foundation and researchers right now
● Living with HIV/AIDS is manageable

How does HIV spread?
● Unprotected sex, whether it is anal, vaginal or oral sex with an infected person
● Transfusion of contaminated blood
● The sharing of contaminated needles or any other sharp instruments
● Mother to child during the pregnancy and also through breastfeeding

How to prevent transmission of HIV
● Practice safe sex with your partner using condoms and other barriers
● Get tested and treated for any sexually transmitted infections
● Abstain from injection drug use
● Have the conversation with your healthcare provider regarding the blood being administered during ordered blood transfusions
● ALWAYS have the “talk” with your partner, not only to protect yourself, but to protect your partner as well

Early signs/stages of HIV
● Swollen glands
● Fever (most common symptom)
● Sore throat
● Rash
● Muscle and joint aches
● Headache
● Fatigue
● The early stages of HIV is described as “flu-like symptoms” many HIV patients describe it as, “the worse flu I have ever had.”

Later signs/stages of HIV
● Rapid weight loss
● Recurring fever or night sweats
● Extreme and unexplained tiredness
● Prolonged swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpits, neck and groin
● Diarrhea that lasts longer than a week
● Sores in the mouth, anus or genitals
● Pneumonia
● Red, brown, pink or purplish blotches on or under the skin in the mouth, nose or eyelids
● Memory loss, depression and other neurological disorders
● Many other infections can occur because your immune system is under attack and not working properly

What does treatment look like?
● Anti-HIV medications are the most common medication. There are many different kinds of drugs. The main goals of these medications is to attack the virus and to stop it from progressing to AIDS.
● If the HIV has progressed to AIDS, then you will start on a different kind of medication to help with the symptoms that occur with the disease.
● HIV/AIDS treatment is a strict medication plan.  Many patients set alarms and reminders for themselves so they do not miss a dose, and many have emergency doses in their cars and purses in case they are not in close range. It is stressed to contact your pharmacy when you have two weeks left of your dose.
● It is VERY important to keep up with doctors appointments.
● Many healthcare providers recommend therapy and support groups.  In these groups you would learn how to manage your disease and also learn new ways to cope with your disease.
● Each individual will have a different medication plan, depending on how far your disease has progressed.

If you think you have been exposed to HIV, it is important to get tested right away. The test includes a simple blood test.

For more information, please contact:
● The National HIV/AIDS Foundation.
● St. Kate’s Health and Wellness Clinic
○ Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
○ (651) 690-6714

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