According to a 2016 report Kenya has had the fastest growing number of new HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa in ten years.
These statistics and the continuous risky sexual behaviors Kenyans keep indulging in is not only worrying but calls for much needed education on what HIV really is and how best to prevent it.
Here are eight facts every Kenyan should know about HIV.
1.What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is a virus that attacks a person’s CD4 cells which are responsible for fighting off infections in the body.
HIV makes one more susceptible to infections if left untreated. HIV causes AIDS.
2.Anyone can get infected
HIV can affect anyone. It does not discriminate on race, age, and sexuality; male or female. Anyone can get HIV.
3.HIV is preventable
HIV can be prevented in numerous ways.
One effective way of preventing the contraction of HIV is through the use of PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis).
PrEP is a daily pill for HIV negative people at risk of getting HIV such as people with multiple sexual partners, a man who has sex with other men or someone that has a history of STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) in the last six months – to name a few.
Research has shown that the use of PrEP among people who are HIV negative has been successful in preventing HIV infection.
4.It can be transmitted in various ways
HIV can be transmitted in different ways.
The commonly known way of contracting HIV is through having sexual intercourse with an infected person. Other ways people can contract HIV is through sharing syringes with someone that may have HIV and in some cases through blood transfusions.
5.People with STIs are more at risk of contracting HIV
If you have frequent and untreated STI’s or sexual contact with a partner that has been exposed to STI’s such as syphilis, Chlamydia and gonorrhea you are likely to be at risk of HIV infection. These may cause a change in the tissue of the vagina or penis thus making it easier for the HIV virus to be transmitted during sex.
6.HIV still has no cure
There is no cure for HIV and that is why prevention is key using preventative methods such as condoms and PrEP. Whether you are sexually active or not, you still need yo know your status.
PrEP is a daily pill taken by HIV negative people at risk of getting infected. The pill when taken every day can lower the risk of HIV infection by more than 90 percent.
PrEP takes up to 20 days to be fully effective and should be used with condoms every time someone has sex.
7.HIV is not a death sentence
Contracting HIV does not mean that your life is over. There are anti-retroviral (ARVs) that can help you live a healthy and wonderful life.
8.You may have HIV and you do not know it
It is very important to know your HIV status. The testing process is free, fast and completely confidential.
If you are HIV positive then you can know how to best live with the virus as well as avoid spreading the virus to other people.