AIDS-free generation in Pakistan
Posted on 10 months ago
The stigmatization of HIV/AIDS has been made so much in our society that it has resulted in the hatred and disgust of any infected individual. It has reached to a point that an infectee would never come out to speak that he has been infected with the disease. Caring less that it is just a disease, similar to cancer, tuberculosis, hepatitis or any other epidemic that is life taking; we have developed a behavior that secludes the affectees from the normal life.
At present, Pakistan has few testing centers and a total of fifteen treatment centers all over the country. The prevalence is low; however the number of cases is growing. According to the statistics of National AIDS Control Programme, around 4,000 HIV positive people are receiving care at their treatment and care centers. Yet, the number of affected people is unknown due to the general stigmatization, lesser inclination towards testing and the foremost being an unaware society.
Let us be clear that no country can possibly know the strength of any epidemic without proper testing system. HIV is an epidemic, and we are unaware of the number of people who are infected with the virus, and who need to be taken care of. The testing system is easy to use, and the advanced research allows a person to test it privately in one’s privacy also. However, it’s better to go for the testing centers to get authentic result. The most common testing systems are the saliva based tests and a series of blood tests to identify if someone is positive or negative.
The statistics show that everyday 7,000 new HIV infections occur in the non-affected people. Moreover, the HIV is constantly changing its make-up, and it has not one but millions of viruses-and that is the very reason that the medical research could not find a lead to its cure as yet. However, the scientists believe that there are some promising leads, and they would one day be able to find a cure; yet the promotion of preventive measures is the best way to fight the menace at present. We have to be clear that it is a virus which can be attained only through bodily fluids, and it can pass through the semen or blood, and that all the preventive measures should be ensured at personal and governmental level to stop the spreading of the epidemic.
As soon as the virus enters a body, it forms antibodies; and here it is that it can be verified if a person is positive or not. However, some people show the infection immediately, and some may show a little later. Once the infection occurs, the virus causes CD4 count to get lower. The normal count of CD4 in an unaffected person can vary from 700 to 1400, but the person infected with HIV has relatively a lower count.
Researchers believe that CD4 count at 350 must be treated, and proper healthcare along with usage of drugs should be followed. For instance, if a person has a CD4 count at 350 and he doesn’t use therapy, it would result in developing other allied diseases. It would also cause further lowering of the count, taking things to worst. However, if a person starts drug therapy at the same count, the CD4 count is expected to reach to 500 at average, which is pretty normal. Let us put another instance where the CD4 count is 200 and this is the point where one contracts AIDS; it brings in various AIDS defining illnesses which include lung diseases, pneumonias, TB and other viral diseases. If a person gets into this stage, the life span is left for 6 to 8 months. Even yet, if a person starts therapy at this stage, the chances are that one can live for up to another 10 years. It brings in chances of reasonably healthy life for a good number of years.
Let me put up that the scientists have found people with a CD4 count of zero, and even then those people came back in life using the drug therapy.
What matters is the treatment; if the treatment begins at the CD4 count of 350, one can expect a very normal life. It adds that the pain also disappears with time. The drug therapy normally achieves a count of 500; however there are instances where people have been able to take the count back to 700 or higher even. It surely confirms that country like Pakistan is very much able to control the disease at its early stages, and that it can employ resources which can ensure the barring of the epidemic at this very stage; and impede any situation which is worse in the future.
As much as HIV infected people are concerned, we have to consider their bodies as machines which are infected by a virus. So, if one takes antivirus to stop the assault of virus on the machine; the virus shall be unable to harm the machine. Similarly, if HIV infected people use the drug therapy, and lead a healthy lifestyle, they can surely force the virus of HIV not to harm them.
Now let us understand, the drug therapy helps in prevention only and it is not a cure; however the drug prevents virus to be made in the body. The point is that HIV exists in the body, and that it cannot produce virus while using the therapy.
It makes the virus non-infectious. With time, the virus gets fully suppressed and it takes almost 6 months for a virus to be fully suppressed with proper drug therapy and a healthy lifestyle.
Coming to the point, HIV testing is the first part of the subject if someone needs therapy. We have to turn the tide against the epidemic, and fight along with the world to handle any unforeseen troubles in the future; for Pakistan is already fighting a number of epidemics. For this, we have to bring in general acceptance to the infected individuals.
We have to accept that HIV/AIDS is a disease, and we have to fight it, rather than to stigmatize it. We have to take steps to ensure that the people are tested, the infected ones are dealt with the therapy, and that full suppression of the virus has to be attained to ensure an AIDS-free generation.
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