Sex may permeate our popular culture, but conversations about it are still associated with stigma and shame in Indian households. As a result, most people experiencing sexual health problems or trying to find information about sex often turn to unverified online sources or follow the unscientific advice of their friends.
To address the widespread misinformation about sex, News18.com is running this weekly sex column, ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’. We hope to start conversations about sex through this column and approach sexual health issues with insight and scientific nuance.
The column is written by sexologist Prof (Dr) Saransh Jain. In this article, Dr. Jain will discuss the symptoms of HIV and what you can do if your partner is HIV positive.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a serious virus that damages the immune system. If you or your partner have been diagnosed with HIV, it is important to understand what the symptoms are and how to manage them and how it is transmitted so that you can take steps to protect yourself and your partner. If your partner is HIV positive, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of contracting HIV. There are treatments available that can help people live long and healthy lives.
What is HIV & AIDS?
It can be easy to confuse HIV and AIDS. They are different diagnoses, but they go hand in hand: HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, making the infected person vulnerable to other infections and diseases.
AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection and can be fatal and is also known as stage 3 HIV.
AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a syndrome or series of symptoms that can develop over time in a person with HIV who does not receive treatment. A person can have HIV without developing AIDS, but it is not possible to have AIDS without first having HIV.
What are the symptoms of HIV?
There is no single answer to this question because HIV does not always produce symptoms and HIV symptoms can range from mild to severe and differ from person to person. HIV usually causes flu-like symptoms about two to four weeks after transmission. This short period of time is called an acute infection. The most common symptoms include:
• Chills and sore throat
• Swollen lymph nodes
• Muscle aches and pains
These symptoms can be so mild that you may not notice them and are often mistaken for the flu or another virus. However, the amount of virus in your blood (viral load) is quite high at this time. As a result, the infection spreads more easily during the primary infection than in the subsequent stage. If you have any of these symptoms for more than 4 weeks, it’s important to see a healthcare provider right away for testing and treatment.
What to do if your partner is HIV positive?
If you’ve just received the news that your partner is HIV positive, you’re probably feeling a range of emotions: fear, anger, confusion, and more. You may feel like you can’t trust anyone and that you are now living in a nightmare. This is a time when having a support system is crucial. You need people you can count on to help you through this difficult time. You also need to make sure you take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. The first step is to test yourself for HIV. This is something you should do as soon as possible, even if you currently have no symptoms. Here are some other things you can do to protect yourself and maintain a healthy relationship:
• Educate yourself about HIV. There is a lot of misinformation about HIV, so it’s important to educate yourself on the facts. This will help you understand how the virus works and how to best protect yourself from infection. You also need to learn about HIV and how it is transmitted. This will help you understand the risks and make informed decisions about your future.
• Use protection. If you are going to have any kind of sexual contact with your partner, it is absolutely essential that you use protection (condoms, dental dams, etc.). This will help reduce your risk of contracting HIV from your partner.
• Get tested regularly. Even if you use protection during sex, it’s still important to get tested for HIV regularly. That way, if you do happen to contract the virus, you can get treatment as soon as possible.
• Communicate openly and honestly with your partner If your partner is living with HIV, it is important to communicate openly and honestly with them about your own risk factors and concerns. This will help you both make informed decisions about your relationship and sex life going forward.
Can I stay with my partner and protect myself from HIV?
Yes, you can stay with your partner and protect yourself from HIV. There are some things you can do to prevent HIV infection. The best way to prevent HIV is to use condoms correctly every time you have sex. You can also use PrEP, which is a daily medication that can prevent HIV. If you are HIV-negative and have a partner who is HIV-positive, you can take PEP, which is a short course of medication that can prevent HIV if you have been exposed to it. Talk to your partner about their HIV status and how they are managing it. This will help you understand their situation and make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to protecting yourself.
HIV & AIDS is not a death sentence
The most important thing to remember that HIV is not a death sentence. With the right treatment and care, people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives. If you think you have been exposed to HIV or have questions about the virus, talk to your doctor or a health care provider. They can help you get the information and care you need.
Prof (Dr) Saransh Jain is the winner of the Swasth Bharat Rattan Award and is a certified sexologist and licensed by the American Board of Sexology. He is currently Senior Consultant at Dr SK Jain Burlington Clinic in Lucknow. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the position of this publication.
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