Keep Well This Winter

Keep Well This Winter

Doctors not Checking for HIV

Official report shows many hospitals do not offer HIV tests

The National Health System is meant to provide health services in all the UK territory. Facilities like hospitals and specialised clinics are placed in strategic spots across our countries, and open for the population’s requests for aid. Even if every person deserves medical attention as well as access to prevention and health education, not all populations are the same. Some regions are at a higher rist of certain diseases, infections and health problems. For this reason, hospital specialities and priorities need to be regionalized as well. Doctors have to be aware of the problems with higher incidence in their area of influence and provide proper prevention measures. 

HIV is a sexual infection that affects around 100.000 people in the UK, and it is estimated that almost 1 in 5 are unaware of their condition. Untreated HIV can lead to AIDS, a deadly disease of the immune system, but early diagnosis can not only prevent the infection from being spread around during sexual intercourse or blood contact, but also save lives and stop opportunistic diseases that attack the body while the immune system is weakened.

For this reason, the NHS has decided that hospitals should provide HIV testing services to those who attend their facilities in high risk areas. However, a recent report has shown that aroun 70% of targeted hospitals fail to do this. Some blame cuts in their budgets for this, but there is still much to be made clear about why this is happening. If you want to read more about this report, see here for more details

A cure for HIV?

Ever since it appeared on the radar, scientists have been trying to find a cure for HIV. Our medicine has advanced a lot since the early days, when an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence, and communities feared this infection like the plague. There are still traces of this fear lingering around, but thanks to the work of governments and organizations, more and more people are becoming educated about the fact that HIV infections are no longer deadly, not all of them cause AIDS, and symptoms can be treated with antiretroviral therapy. However, the presence of the virus in the blood has yet to be erradicated, so people with HIV do still have a sort of Damocles’s sword above them, like a ticking clock that they must stop all the time with medication to prevent the bomb from going off.

Luckily, scientinsts seem to have found hope of a cure, in a drug called vedolizumab, that has been proved successful in treating an extremely similar infection in monkeys. Experimental subjets first received antiretroviral therapy, which is the common prescription for HIV infections, and after the virus has been inactivated doses of this drug have reduced the status of the virus to "sustained remission" which is a practical equivalent to it dissappearing from the body. In simple words, it undoes all the virus does in our immune system.

Clinic trials on humans are currently taking place in the United States, and after a while we will find out about the results. The end of AIDS could be closer than we think.

Early detection, your best friend

People should be educated about HIV and AIDS. And they should get tested more often. The earlier a patient with the infection receives medication, the lesser the virus’s effect will be. People with HIV can lead normal lives for many years before developing AIDS, and even then there is treatment available. You should get tested regularly, especially if you are at increased risk. Risk factors include changing sexual partners often, getting a new sexual partner or being a man who has sex with men. There’s nothing to be ashamed about and nothing about your sex life you should quit, except that you should use appropriate protection and get tested. That’s all.

So if you have HIV, you think you may have, you know someone who has it, or you’d just like to learn more, this is a good place to start. It has data on what HIV and AIDS are, but it doesn’t stop there. You can find all sort of support tools and resources, from fundraising ideas to social connections. This site has daily real life stories told in first person, so you can have a closer look at real HIV possitive people, instead of just hearing rumours or common talk about them.

Get informed, get tested, and use protection while having sex. It is in you to make the difference and lead on a healthy life. 

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