Kenya: Vaccine and Cure Remain Elusive, 39 Years After First Aids Diagnosis

(file photo).
1 December 2020

Awareness programmes are being conducted locally, nationally and internationally to unite people around the world for HIV/Aids awareness.

Since the first case of HIV was reported in 1981, the virus that causes Aids has become one of the most serious health and development challenges globally. Since the beginning of the epidemic, about 76 million people have been infected with HIV. Today, about 38 million people are infected and millions have died from Aids-related causes.

According to 2018 statistics, Kenya has the joint third largest HIV epidemic in the world (alongside Tanzania) with 1.6 million people living with the virus. In the same year, 25,000 people died. While this is still high, the death rate has declined steadily from 64,000 in 2010.

HIV prevalence -- the percentage of people living with the virus -- among adults (15-49 years) was 4.7 per cent, while 46,000 people were newly infected and 25,000 died.

In 2018, 69 per cent of adults living with HIV were accessing treatment. However, treatment coverage among children under 15 was lower, at 61 per cent.

The virus attacks the body's immune system and destroys CD4 or white blood cells. This increases the risk of various serious infections and cancers. HIV is caused by infected blood, unprotected sex with contaminated semen or vaginal fluids, and the use of viral needles.

Symptoms such as fever, chills, sore throat, mouth ulcers, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, night sweats, rashes, and muscle aches are experienced within 24 weeks of stage 1 of an infection. These symptoms are not seen in some people in stage 1. HIV should not be considered when any symptoms are felt; it could be due to some other disease. Contact your family doctor immediately if symptoms persist for a long time.

Antiretroviral therapy

If the number of CD4 cells in the test is less than 200, it is called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. According to the WHO, antiretroviral therapy should be started immediately after screening for possible positive people. This treatment can prevent the spread of the virus to others. Infected pregnant women should take antiretrovirals to prevent mother-to-child transmission.

Stage 1 of severe HIV is more likely to have an infection in the victim's blood. The person also feels flu-like symptoms. In the first stage, testing becomes necessary. This stage of chronic infection is called asymptomatic HIV. In such cases, medication may be needed.

At the end of this period, the amount of the virus in the blood increases, and the level of infection in the body increases with the decrease of CD4 cells. Appropriate medication is needed at this stage to delay the next stage of treatment.

The virus can be spread in many ways, such as through anal contact, vaginal and oral sex. Related to the partner's body fluids, the virus can enter the bloodstream through cracks in the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, and anus.

To protect yourself, don't have more than one sex partner: Be honest with your spouse. Also, practice safe sex with a latex condom. According to the CDC USA, in the event of a positive test, treatment should be started without delay to keep the immune system healthy. Without treatment, people can live up to five years.

Antigen/antibodies are prevalent in the existing tests. Detection of antibodies can take weeks or months. Every citizen of the world needs to be aware to prevent the dangerous disease. Better precaution than death, avoidance and timely investigation and treatment without delay.

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