AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is a disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus
(HIV). Due to this infection, the person acquires a deficiency in his immune system, which normally helps
him fight infections. A person with AIDS may thus even fail to fight ordinary infections, and often dies from
The disease is spread by:
- Sexual contact with a male or female having the AIDS virus
- Blood transfusions of infected blood
- Sharing needles infected with the blood of an
Sex with more than one partner and homosexuality increase the risk. Drug users sharing the same needle
are at a high risk.
A pregnant mother with AIDS can pass the infection to
her baby. Delivery by Caesarean section may reduce the risk.
SYMPTOMS: The disease is suspected in children who fail to grow normally, get frequent diarrhoea and skin
infections, persistent white patches in the mouth due to a fungal infection called thrush, have generalised
the lymph glands, rapid spread of tuberculosis, repeated pneumonias and develop certain types of
But it is also important to remember that most children who suffer from the above symptoms in our country are
more likely to be suffering from common childhood illnesses, malnutrition and tuberculosis rather than AIDS.
It is important to educate yourself and your children
and adolescents about AIDS and HIV. After the AIDS virus
enters the system of the person, it may take months or years
before the symptoms become apparent. Yet this person can spread the disease by donating blood or having sex or sharing
needles with another person. By the same count, a person
can get AIDS from an individual who may otherwise look completely fit and healthy. Hence, it is important to
careful before developing an intimate relationship with another person. Premarital sex must be avoided. Some
potential partners get themselves tested for HIV before getting engaged.
Myths About AIDS
It is also equally important to know that AIDS IS NOT SPREAD by casual contact such as playing, studying,
eating, touching, or even living together with an AIDS patient.
It also does not pass to another person through food, water, mosquitoes or sharing the same toilet. Do not ostracise
an AIDS patient, but take the precaution of wearing rubber gloves if you have to ever handle his blood or soiled
clothes. Ask an expert for advice on living with someone with AIDS.
It is not true that using a condom will safeguard you
from getting AIDS; the use of a condom for sex with an
infected person significantly reduces, but does not completely eliminate the risk of getting AIDS.
PREVENTION: The best way to prevent AIDS is to prevent HIV. The best way to prevent HIV in children is
to prevent HIV infection in men and women.
Have sex only with a faithful married partner, avoid using unsterilised needles (insist that your medical
practitioner opens a new needle in front of you, or
carry your own sterilised pack with you when you travel), and
do not agree to transfusions of blood that has not been
tested for HIV. If this testing is not possible in an
emergency, only accept blood from a known close friend or a
relative. Antiretroviral drugs, taken by the mother before and
during delivery, can reduce the risk of HIV being passed on to the child.
HIV is transmitted through breast milk, with about 1 in
7 breastfed infants born to HIV-positive women acquiring
HIV in this way (See FEEDING
INFANTS, YOUNG CHILDREN AND
At the community level, we must spread awareness of this disease among young people, work for moral and spiritual
regeneration, create such socio-economic conditions that husbands and wives do not have to separate to find work
and individuals do not have to sell their bodies for sex.
Schools are an ideal forum for creating awareness about HIV and AIDS. Support your childís schoolís sex
education programmes, especially since these will allow your child
to gain broad-based, multidimensional and age-appropriate information on responsible sexuality. Also make time to
talk to your child about growing up and sexuality.
When infants are born, they have their motherís
antibodies. A baby may have a positive HIV antibody, but not have the virus. Although this does not always happen, the motherís
antibodies may disappear when the child is approximately 15 months old and leave the baby HIV-negative.
11 February, 2013