What you should know about HIV and AIDS

The first thing you need to know

- HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that is transmitted through unprotected sex (through the vagina, mouth or anus); through punctures where infected blood is present (tattooing and/or piercing with unsterilized needles, or drug addicts exchanging unsterilized needles); or through the passage of the virus from mother to baby (during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding). AIDS (Acquired Syndrome - AIDS) is the stage of HIV infection, which occurs several years after the person has been infected (it is a lentivirus), and in which our immune system (defenses of our body) has weakened and the number of copies of the virus has multiplied in our body, this stage becomes the gateway to our body of multiple opportunistic diseases, such as pneumonia, TB and toxoplasmosis among many others.

- The virus is not transmitted by daily contact with an infected person (hugs, kisses, sharing dishes or kitchen utensils, showers, toilets, sweat, tears, saliva) or by mosquito bites. If a person wants to know if he or she is infected, he or she can ask a professional for advice on taking the voluntary "Elisa" HIV test through the health system that treats you...

- You should consider and consider the possible benefits or negative consequences of a positive HIV test result in your own life.

- An infected person may look and feel fine for many years before symptoms of the disease begin to show, as we mentioned earlier, HIV is a lentivirus. Therefore, beyond reliance and the love we have for our partner, it is important to talk with him or her about our sexual past, and also about what significan concepts such as stability and loyalty, because both aspects go hand in hand but definitely are NOT the same and therefore we should use the condom until we know the HIV diagnosis of our partner or each person with whom we have an occasional sexual relationship.

1. How can you pass HIV as a mother to your baby?

A. During pregnancy through the placenta, as long as the mother has not taken care of herself and is not taking antiretroviral drugs for HIV during pregnancy.
B. At birth, when the baby comes into contact with the mother's blood and other body parts fluids. This is a high-risk time.
C. Through breast milk.

2. How easy is it for you to pass HIV to your baby?

If the mother is not diagnosed early with HIV infection and is not treated with antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy, the chances of mother-to-child transmission are very high, at 24-30%.
Factors such as the level of defences (the mother's immune system), the number of virus copies in the mother's blood or the nutritional status influence to a large extent.

3. How serious are the risks of your baby being infected with HIV?

If a baby is born with the infection and does not receive timely medical care, he or she is at high risk of becoming seriously ill and dying. This depends on factors such as the level of the virus in their blood, their nutritional status, and whether or not they receive antiretroviral treatment in due course.

4. How long does it take to find out if your baby is infected with HIV?

A baby born to a mother who lives with the virus can be born healthy and without the infection, as long as the mother has taken care of herself during pregnancy. She attends all prenatal check-ups with her treating doctor, takes antiretroviral drugs during gestation, is properly nourished, delivered by cesarean section, and the mother does not breastfeed the baby.

In order to know if the baby is infected or not, it is necessary to wait at least 4 to 6 months after birth for the tests performed on the baby to give a reliable result.
However, it is recommended to perform the first laboratory tests from the first month of birth.

The treating doctor will advise you about the laboratory tests you should perform.

If the different lab tests are negative, the child can be treated as an HIV-negative child.

5. How can you prevent HIV in yourself and your baby?

You should talk to your partner about the shared responsibility of protecting yourself from infection and using protective measures before you decide to have a child. Both you and the father should get an "Elisa" HIV test before you decide to get pregnant. It's good for both of you to be aware of possible exposures to the risk of HIV infection, and if the pregnancy is ongoing, you should assess the need for the "Elisa" test as soon as possible. If you are infected, there is the possibility of starting medical treatment on time. Antiretroviral drugs against the virus reduce the risk that you will get sick and that the baby will get the virus. After you start antiretroviral treatment judiciously and on time, the chances of transmitting the infection are reduced by a high percentage. This chance of infecting the baby is reduced to less than 2%; that is, if the pregnant mother is put on antiretroviral treatment, she is applying a good preventive measure to avoid transmitting the virus to the baby. For this reason, it is crucial to be informed and advised by professionals about the "Elisa" test, medical examinations and prevention methods. Remember that whether or not to get tested for HIV is an entirely personal decision. The doctor gives advice and guidance, but it is up to you to decide - you have the right!

6. If a woman has HIV during pregnancy, what should she do?

If you have been diagnosed with HIV infection, you should continue to have prenatal checkups and remember the following:

- It's a good idea to get antiretroviral treatment as soon as possible and keep it throughout your pregnancy.

- You should schedule a cesarean delivery, never a natural delivery, to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus at birth.

- Finally, the breast milk of a mother living with HIV has a high concentration of copies of HIV and therefore you should not feed the baby with it. It should be replaced with milk formulas (powdered milk) that replaces it and which must be delivered by the social security in health that attends you, is an obligation.

7. Where can you get more information?

You must maintain permanent, truthful and responsible information about all the prenatal control activities that are carried out in your locality. Attend all the prenatal check-ups!

Look for health professionals and organizations that will inform you about HIV and its consequences.