Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Promoting HIV Prevention and risk reduction

For the last two months I have been actively participating in an HIVy 101 course at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. The goals is to educate youth about HIV and how to reduce the likely hood of contracting the virus.

On my way home from todays course I decided to fly a sign and educate anyone that cared to listen while also passing out condoms, lube, and pamphlets. I spent the majority of my day at the Beverly / Vermont metro/bus stop.

Here are some basic facts and statistics:

V is the human immunodeficiencyvirus. It is the virus that can lead toacquired immune deficiencysyndrome, or AIDS. CDC estimates that about 56,000 people in the United States contracted HIV in 2006.
There are two types of HIV, HIV-1 and HIV-2. In the United States, unless otherwise noted, the term “HIV” primarily refers to HIV-1.
Both types of HIV damage a person’s body by destroying specific blood cells, called CD4+ T cells, which are crucial to helping the body fight diseases.

HIV is spread primarily by:
  • Not using a condom when having sex with a person who has HIV. All unprotected sex with someone who has HIV contains some risk. However:
    • Unprotected anal sex is riskier than unprotected vaginal sex.
    • Among men who have sex with other men, unprotected receptive anal sex is riskier than unprotected insertive anal sex.
  • Having multiple sex partners or the presence of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can increase the risk of infection during sex. Unprotected oral sex can also be a risk for HIV transmission, but it is a much lower risk than anal or vaginal sex.
  • Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment used to prepare illicit drugs for injection.
  • Being born to an infected mother—HIV can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breast-feeding.
Less common modes of transmission include:
  • Being “stuck” with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp object. This risk pertains mainly to healthcare workers.
  • Receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV.  This risk is extremely remote due to the rigorous testing of the U.S. blood supply and donated organs/tissue.
  • HIV may also be transmitted through unsafe or unsanitary injections or other medical or dental practices.  However, the risk is also remote with current safety standards in the U.S.
  • Eating food that has been pre-chewed by an HIV-infected person.  The contamination occurs when infected blood from a caregiver’s mouth mixes with food while chewing.  This appears to be a rare occurrence and has only been documented among infants whose caregiver gave them pre-chewed food. 
  • Being bitten by a person with HIV. Each of the very small number of cases has included severe trauma with extensive tissue damage and the presence of blood. There is no risk of transmission if the skin is not broken. 
  • Contact between broken skin, wounds, or mucous membranes and HIV-infected blood or blood-contaminated body fluids. These reports have also been extremely rare. 
  • There is an extremely remote chance that HIV could be transmitted during “French” or deep, open-mouth kissing with an HIV-infected person if the HIV-infected person’s mouth or gums are bleeding.
  • Tattooing or body piercing present a potential risk of HIV transmission, but no cases of HIV transmission from these activities have been documented. Only sterile equipment should be used for tattooing or body piercing.
  • There have been a few documented cases in Europe and North Africa where infants have been infected by unsafe injections and then transmitted HIV to their mothers through breastfeeding.  There have been no documented cases of this mode of transmission in the U.S.

 HIV cannot reproduce outside the human body. It is not spread by:
  • Air or water.
  • Insects, including mosquitoes. Studies conducted by CDC researchers and others have shown no evidence of HIV transmission from insects.
  • Saliva, tears, or sweat.  There is no documented case of HIV being transmitted by spitting.
  • Casual contact like shaking hands or sharing dishes.
  • Closed-mouth or “social” kissing.
Most people will develop detectable antibodies that can be detected by the most commonly used tests in the United States within 2 to 8 weeks (the average is 25 days) of their infection. Ninety-seven percent (97%) of persons will develop detectable antibodies in the first 3 months.

 How can HIV be prevented?
Because the most common ways HIV is transmitted is through anal or vaginal sex or sharing drug injection equipment with a person infected with HIV, it is important to take steps to reduce the risks associated with these. They include:
  • Know your HIV status. Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested for HIV at least once. If you are at increased risk for HIV, you should be tested for HIV at least once a year. 
    • If you have HIV, you can get medical care, treatment, and supportive services to help you stay healthy and reduce your ability to transmit the virus to others.
    • If you are pregnant and find that you have HIV, treatments are available to reduce the chance that your baby will have HIV.

  • Image of condoms.Correct and consistent condom use. Latex condoms are highly effective at preventing transmission of HIV and some other sexually transmitted diseases. “Natural” or lambskin condoms do not provide sufficient protection against HIV infection.
  • Get tested and treated for STDs and insist that your partners do too.
    Locate an STD testing site.
  • Male circumcision has also been shown to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from women to men during vaginal sex.
  • f you inject drugs, you should use clean needles and works when injecting.
    Locate resources on substance abuse treatment
  • Obtain medical treatment immediately if you think you were exposed to HIV. Sometimes, HIV medications can prevent infection if they are started quickly. This is called post-exposure prophylaxis.
  • Participate in risk reduction programs. Programs exist to help people make healthy decisions, such as negotiating condom use or discussing HIV status. Your health department can refer you to programs in your area.


Colin B said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bublee said...

What was it like handing out those items out to complete strangers? To me it would seem a little awkward at first, but then it would be insanely fun. Plus educating people about HIV makes it all worth it. Killer sign by the way :P

Roqi said...

lol well I am already used to spanging ( Spare Changing formerly known as Panhandling. It is a common practice amidst North American Homeless. Usually accomplished by "flyin' a sign" another common tactic beyond directly requesting financial assistance) since I used to be homeless, so it was not weird for me at all. I love to do pro-active stuff like this anyways, it was actually quite fun.

MacPCharmony said...

yup, always practice safe sex


hahahaha no glove no love, priceless.

Bublee said...

Whenever I need some extra cash or whatnot, Ill head down to my downtown area, whip out my ukulele, and hopefully catch some attention and some spare change. 10 minutes in though I really don't give a damn about the money anymore, more about the music. I know it doesn't really compare with being homeless and panhandling, but i see where you come from.

Roqi said...

Pretty much the same feeling. I never went hungry or was sick when I was on the streets. Usually I spanged for food and booze while traveling with hippies and crust punks lol.

I had a lot of good times. :]

IndustrialHaze said...

don't be silly
cover your willy

SleepySpaceCadet said...

I've always been a bit confused as to whether or not condoms prevent HIV spread, or the spread of any other STD for that matter. I've heard both they do and they don't. I guess it shouldn't matter, as condoms should be worn anyways. But this sort of cleared things up for me.

Roqi said...

Well the source is the center for disease control. haha

Distress_of_ignorance said...

Condoms definitely prevent STD's... to an extent.

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