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AIDS Update
     

Shasa is a volunteer who helps people with AIDS (PWAs). Many PWAs have difficulty facing the fact that they have contracted the much-dreaded disease with no cure.

“Many PWAs lose their jobs and others have trouble making ends met. They are only human and tend to lose hope and are not sure what to do next. That is where we counsellors come in, with support groups and individual sessions where we help them get back on their feet,” reveals Shasa.

The discrimination that exists towards PWA’s only helps to make things worse. “We are all volunteer counsellors and help patients however we can. My friend died from AIDS 2 years ago. I feel sad to learn how uneducated Singaporeans are about AIDS and the discrimination that exists today,” laments Stephanie, another volunteer.

The discrimination is shocking. Sometimes PWAs are laid off by their employers and people give them all sorts of looks. Even a number of dentists are unwilling to treat them.

“This discrimination extends to even us volunteers. Just because we help, others think we are HIV POSITIVE. What’s wrong, can’t one have a genuine intention to help others?” she adds. You may think to contract the virus, you need to have many sexual partners. Reconsider.

Take for example James 25, who discovered he had HIV after undergoing a routine test just for the sake of having one. He is a decent guy and is presently in a steady relationship. Nadia is his third girlfriend. He said he led a “safe” lifestyle and he didn’t do drugs.

“I knew enough about AIDS but never pictured such a thing could happen to me. I am straight, an ordinary simple one – woman man. But it was y first girlfriend who passed it to me. I wish I had been better “educated,” says James.

When he found out he was positive, he freaked out. Things were going so well with Nadia, he as about to tie the knot. His dreams were shattered.

Forget the popular notion that AIDS only infects gays and lesbians, people leading promiscuous lifestyles, drug abusers or older people. Yes, these groups are at a higher risk, but people with high-risk lifestyles are more prone than others. A young educated heterosexual Singaporean is just as prone as anybody else.

“I got the illness from a call girl. At first it was tough but now I have come to terms with it. Well, if you want to clear a room of people there is certainly one way. If you sneeze or even yawn, people can disappear really fast,” said one cynical PWA, Steven.

So what are the chances of contracting the virus from call girls, you may wonder?

Call girls in Singapore have to undergo tests for venereal diseases (VD) twice a month, and HIV tests once in three months. Those infected with VD or Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) are treated. However, those found positive have theirs cards revoked.

Of course, it is not transmitted in all cases. It depends on various factors such as the level of physical contact, whether a condom is used the amount of time spent together.

“I don’t know where or who I got the disease from not all clients are gentlemanly enough to use contraceptives some prefer not to. I know I am risk but what to do, I have a family overseas. I don’t exactly enjoy my ‘job’,” reveals an embittered call girl refused to be named.

There are various warped realities about AIDS going around. Some true and others not so true. Remember HIV cannot be spread through air, an infected agent or person. A mode of transmission (sexual contact, needles) and the susceptibility of the host (the amount found in the infected agent’s blood or semen) need to be present.

(All names in this story are fictional to protect the identity of both PWAS and Volunteers)

Rubber Tips
Avoid having sexual intercourse with an infected partner for total protection against transmission of HIV and other STDs. However, for those who do engage in sexual intercourse, using latex condom consistently and correctly is highly effective.

Condoms must be used consistently and correctly to provide maximum protection. Consistent use means using a condom with each act of intercourse.

Here are the proper steps to correct condom usage:

* Use a new condom for each act of vaginal, anal or oral intercourse.

* Hold the tip of the condom and unroll it onto the erect penis. Leaving space at the tip of the condom, yet ensuring that no air is trapped in the condoms tip.

* To prevent condom breakage, adequate lubrication is important but use only water-based lubricants such as glycerine or lubricating gel (which can be purchased at any pharmacy), oil-based lubricants, such as petroleum jelly, cold cream, hand lotion or baby oil, can weaken the condom.

* Withdraw from the partner immediately after ejaculation, holding the condom firmly to the base of the penis to keep it from slipping off.

Practice safe sex always!

What they didn’t tell you?
Cause
The virus responsible for AIDS (acquitted immune deficiency syndrome) is the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), it is important to understand that HIV is the actual virus or cause, whereas AIDS is what happens when a person is infected with HIV.

It is what a person gets years after being infected with HIV, HIV has the ability to wipe out your immune system, when your system is slowly destroyed, the likelihood of getting infected with bacteria, viruses, parasites and cancel cells is higher. These invaders cause diseases and, when lumped together, causes AIDS. HIV alone does not kill people. It is these other infections that do.

Incubation Period
It takes between three to ten years for a person to be infected with HIV to develop AIDS, some people even take up to 15 years to develop any symptoms at all.

People with the virus are said to be “HIV-POSITIVE”. A blood test is the best way to tell if you are infected, however, there is a three to six month “window” period. During this period, blood tests cannot detect the virus, your test results are only valid for your sexual activity within the past six months.

Transmission
HIV is found in most bodily fluids including blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. These fluids with HIV have a way of getting in your blood. It is even present in saliva and tears, but not in quantities significant enough to cause infection. Saliva has two proteins which neutralize HIV so the risk of contracting AIDS by dry-kissing is slim.

Sharing drug needles, unprotected insertive and receptive anal and vaginal sex is risky as you can get tiny cuts on your genitals increasing the risk of transmission. Note that the virus can seep in from semen and vaginal fluids.

The AIDS epidemic is rampant all over the world. Already over 22 million men, women and children are infected with AIDS.

The shocking reality - there are 8,500 new HIV cases worldwide every single day and nearly 8 million people, including 1.5 million children, have developed AIDS, nearly 6 million have died.

     
     

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