Sex is a basic human necessity that sometimes even outweighs food. It is a fact for most of the world’s people. I understand that living in this day and age has made most young adults amoral and worldly. The rise of the internet and mass media has contributed to it greatly. But our being very liberated like the Yankees made us careless about one of the most important things about sex: SAFETY.
HIV which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a VERY strong plague that attacks the white blood cells weakening the body’s defenses against diseases and life-threatening infections and cancers. HIV uses human cells to manufacture more of the virus, eventually killing the host and nearby cells that eventually overwhelms the immune system.
On the other hand, AIDS, which is short for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a condition caused by HIV contracted from another person which attacks and weakens the body’s immune system. The infected individual becomes vulnerable to life threatening infection. According to global reports AIDS, still remains as one of the most serious health problems in the world.
Once a person is infected with AIDS, the person is infected with AIDS, the person is infected for life because AIDS does not have a cure. The best way out of it is by prevention. It is thus, important to be educated on ways to contract the virus.
Having unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive is a sure-fire way of getting infected. Unprotected, penetrative sex accounts for 80% of total exposures to the disease worldwide. Whenever my friends talk about their sex lives always ask if they are being safe. Most of them said they don’t use contraceptives such as condoms; just the old pull-out method is enough, they say.
Well I say, there are only two ways of not risking being infected and only one of those two are 100% guaranteed to work. Condoms can reduce the risk of contracting HIV, but ONLY abstinence from sex can give 100% prevention from the infection.
Don’t be too paranoid. It is not true that you can contract AIDS just by standing next to someone. It is not like a cold caused by airborne germs. You also can’t get it through handshakes, kissing, sharing utensils, or bathing in the same pool. Not even mosquitoes or bed bugs.
HIV testing is voluntary, confidential and anonymous, with pre- and post-test counselling. The window period for testing is 6 months from the last exposure with HIV. Tests will be kept confidential. So you don’t have to worry.
Here in VSU, the VSU Hospital has built an organization called HIV-AIDS Organization of Peer Educators or H.O.P.E. VSU. This organization is a volunteer group composed of students, teachers, and health workers who will actively serve as peer educators on HIV-AIDS and STIs in the campus and in the community. They provide access to correct information on HIV-AIDS and STIs, and encourage fellow students with reproductive health problems to seek professional help. They also organize training and seminars to inform and educate not only the VSUans but also students from other schools in Region 8.
In the Philippines, a Filipino gets infected with the virus every two hours. And did you know that statistics shows that the highest number infections in recent years is from male-male intercourse? I am not saying this to discriminate or judge homosexuals. I am just saying to be careful about who you are going to have sex with. Minutes of fun is not worth a lifetime of regrets.
We need to think before we leap, let us be informed and prepared because the best prevention of the disease is by being well-informed.
Ways of infection:
- Unprotected sex.
- Transfusion with infected blood and sharing syringes and needles with someone who is HIV-positive such as in taking drugs or tattoos or other skin piercing tools such as razor blades and surgical instruments can transmit HIV.
- Breastfeeding. Mothers can also infect their unborn babies.
Always remember the ABCDE rules in AIDS prevention:
- Be faithful (having a mutual monogamous relationship)
- Careful sex (no exchange of body fluids), though saliva has extremely minimal risk
- Don’t share needles/ sterilized needles
- Education and information
For more information, contact: Dr. Josephine Zafico, Medical Officer III, DOH certified HIV counselor, 56377510