Over 38.0 million people were living with HIV in 2019 according to statistical studies and Doris was part of these persons.
She had come to terms with the fact that she was among the 68% of adults living with HIV and receiving life long Antiretroviral therapy.(ART), she anticipated been one of the 59% of people who have achieved suppression of the virus completely with no risk of infecting others.
People wondered how she could live such a full life especially with the stigma of being HIV positive looming over her, a fact she never shied away from. She was used to stares and whispers whenever she went on outreach programs but that never deterred her from promoting awareness on HIV.
She was HIV positive from birth, and luckily for her she had been diagnosed on time unlike her mom who lived with the virus for 12 years without detection and lost her life after horrible months spent in the hospital dealing with rapid weight loss and multiple health complications.
As the Team lead for most awareness programs in the area,she shared her story as a lesson and a promise of hope to those infected. She advocated regular check-up for sexually active persons but advised every person to get tested as transmission mode went beyond sex but the virus could be transmitted through blood, rectal fluid, breast milk, vaginal fluid etc.
When she told, she carefully explained about the virus it’s symptoms and how it was not a death sentence.
HIV is a virus that slow destroys the the strength of the white blood cells ( CD4T) that make up the immune system. It has 3 stages at stage one called the Acute stage the virus replicates quickly and shows symptoms that can be waved off as minor infections.
The stage two is the ASYMPTOMATIC infection where the virus is still transmittable but shows no signs in a carrier and it can last up to ten years without detection. Stage three is AIDS proper and at this time the virus has replicated enough and rendered the immune system weak and not functional.
Through treatment such as the Antiretroviral therapy, Carrier could live far beyond life expectancy and attain a state of undectability of virus during testing. This is known as Undetectable=Untransmittable.
Doris taught that consistency in receiving treatment as prescribed was a guarantee for better living, positive mindset would go a long way on suppressing viral activity. Certain lifestyle choices also increases life span these include:
- Taking vaccines against infections
- Reducing stress triggers
- Use of condoms
- Daily exercises
- Eating right diet and healthy foods.
- Quitting habits that we’re harmful in the long run such as smoking and drinking.
HIV is not a death sentence as more and more persons are living normal lives with it and WHO Bodies are working to combat it in more african countries.