Delaying onset of HIV to AIDS; 3 co-infections you must get tested for.
By simply adhering to antiretroviral (ARV) drugs and proper management of opportunistic co-infections, many HIV-positive individuals have continually enjoyed a healthy lifestyle. A great example is Magic Johnson; the basketball legend that has lived with this virus for over two decades. Many still doubt if he is truly infected with HIV because of his healthy status. That will be topic for another day.
In recent times, there has being a reduction in the number of HIV-related death all over the world but Sub-Saharan Africa still accounts for a majority of these deaths.
What could be responsible for this?
Many factors have been blamed especially poor access to ARV drugs and high rate of co-infection among people with HIV.
Here, we will be discussing 3 co-infections common among HIV-positive people in Sub-Saharan Africa. Getting equipped with relevant information about them and going for its test as early as possible is the goal of this article.
Let's first look at the meaning of co-infection and opportunistic infection.
Co-infection is when one is affected by more than one disease at a time while opportunistic infections are diseases that occur because of a weak immune system. Therefore any disease apart from HIV affecting HIV positive person is a coinfection and opportunistic in nature.
Time to focus on the 3 co-infections.
This is a respiratory disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It can easily be transmitted from one person to another. Anytime people infected with TB talks, sneezes or laughs, particles containing the bacteria is released into the air. When these particles are inhaled by those around them, the bacteria will move to the lungs and start multiplying.
A strong immune system fights off the infection by halting the multiplication and spread of the bacteria (also known as latent tuberculosis). For a person with HIV and also infected with tuberculosis that is not treated, there is a rapid progression of HIV infection to AIDS and finally death. This is why early diagnosis is important.
Tuberculosis a leading killer of HIV-positive people: in 2015, 35% of HIV deaths were due to TB. You may like to check WHO Tuberculosis fact sheet.
A constant cough with blood stain, chest pains, weakness and weight loss are some major signs of tuberculosis. Currently, there are different treatment plans for tuberculosis at different stages of the infection.
It is a contagious viral infection that affects the liver and one of the leading causes of Hepatitis (liver inflammation). It can be transmitted either by contact with infected blood (blood transfusion or sharing of a piercing syringe) or sexually by infected semen and other body fluids.
There are vaccines for the prevention of HBV especially for those not already infected with the virus. If left untreated, HBV co-infection makes managing HIV very difficult. But early detection, the virus can be properly managed thereby preventing further health complication.
Just like hepatitis B, hepatitis C is a viral disease that also affects the liver. It also shares similar means of transmission with hepatitis B and HIV. It can occur as a minor illness lasting for some weeks or as a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver.
It is one of the most common co-infections associated with HIV. It comes with no symptoms most times and laboratory tests are the only way to detect this infection.
Lifestyle adjustment like stopping the consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, drug abuse etc are usually encouraged for effective management of both hepatitis B and C. This is to avoid overworking the liver in order to avoid liver cirrhosis or cancer which is the terminal stage of hepatitis.
So get tested for these co-infections once your HIV status is confirmed. Remember to stick to ALL medical instructions you will be given. Healthy living is all it takes to survive with HIV.