Over the past two decades, the life projection for people living with HIV has increased significantly given that many HIV infected persons can now live a healthier and longer life with good routine care. This rapid increase has occurred significantly since 1996 when the new antiretroviral drugs were developed in addition to the former existing antiretroviral therapies. The combination of these two resulted in a very effective regimen of HIV treatment.
As at 1996, the total HIV life expectancy for an infected person at age 20 was 39 years. Since there has been an improvement, the life expectancy increased by about 7 years in 2011.
In addition to the above, the survival rate for people living with HIV has drastically increased since the invention of the modern mode of management. Researchers in 2013 did a study and came to findings that about 78 percent of deaths of HIV infected people between 1988 and 1993 were as a result of AIDS. This dropped drastically to about 15 percent between 2005 and 2009.
The forgoing tailors to a conclusion therefore that a person infected with HIV without treatment has a very high tendency to develop AIDS which consequently results in early death.
Treatments expected to be taken by HIV infected persons
HIV drugs which are referred to by some as antiretroviral drugs can be very effective in slowing down the damage caused by the HIV infection which would help prevent it from resulting in AIDS.
A doctor may recommend that an infected person undergo antiretroviral therapy which is expected to be taken alongside three or more drugs in one day. The essence of this is to help the body and prevent AIDS. Some of these various classes of antiretroviral drugs include but are not limited to:
- Protease inhibitors
- Integrase inhibitors
- Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors
- Fusion inhibitors
- Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors.
Utilization of these aforementioned drugs goes a long way in the management of HIV such that when an infected person considers what to expect and how difficult it seems to survive, the existence of antiretroviral drugs would be his or her saving grace.
Expected complications when one is infected with HIV
One is bound to expect other symptoms especially when the primary infection is not managed or treated adequately. These symptoms are referred to as opportunistic infections and may come in many forms depending on the body metabolism. They include but are not limited to:
- Wasting syndrome
- Recurring pneumonia
- Fungal infection
- Different types of lung infection
- Brain and spinal cord disease
- Chronic intestinal infection
- Herpes Simplex Virus
- HIV related brain disorder
- Cytomegalovirus infection
Precautions expected to be exercised by a person infected with HIV
Since one cannot be vaccinated against HIV, it is important to know that one can lower the risk considerably with some precautions. Consistent advocacy teaching these precautions and the great job NGOs and health officials are doing all across the world has resulted in longer life expectancy for HIV carriers.
Some of the precautions they hammer on are:
- Limiting the number of sexual partners or preferably staying with one.
- Getting tested regularly alongside one’s partner
- Regular use of condoms so as to reduce the tendency of transmitting the disease
- Getting tested for other sexually transmitted diseases which would help for an effective health management
- Abstaining from sharing sharp objects and blood transfusion which puts uninfected persons at risk.
HIV infection and the expectation of stigma
In the 1980s, the fear associated with HIV epidemic was severe unlike that of today. During those times, only very few knew the science behind HIV and its transmission which made them scared of any infected persons. This fear was as a result of the misconceptions or false beliefs held by a lot of persons. Some of these were:
- That HIV is a disease associated with sudden death
- That HIV can only be transmitted via sexual intercourse with an infected person
- That one can only be infected when associated with drugs, homosexuality, and commercial sex
- That a person infected is being punished for his or her wrong deeds and deserves it.
- That the gods/deities/spirits are behind the infections, etc.
Although very few still hold on to these beliefs and express them, the world has moved on to understand HIV better than it used to. These stigmas may be experienced by infected persons but one should know that a person infected with HIV can live a better life with the right steps taken medically (use of antiretroviral drugs), socially (going about their usual relationship with people without inferiority complex), and psychologically (believing one is as healthy and strong as every other person who is uninfected with the disease).