What are HIV and AIDS?
HIV, or the ‘human immunodeficiency virus’ is the virus that causes an HIV infection. If left untreated HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). HIV acts by attacking and destroying the body’s CD4 cells which form an important part of the body’s immune system designed to fight infections. This means that, if left untreated, HIV makes it difficult for the body to fight off infections, and it is at this point that the condition becomes known as AIDS.
Modern medication has made it possible to live a completely normal life, with a normal life expectancy. Prevention in the form of a pill known as PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) also reduces the risk of HIV transmission by over 99%. When used with other forms of protection, such as a condom, the risk of STIs is reduced by almost 100%. That is why knowing your status by testing for HIV and other STIs can and will lead to a healthy lifestyle.
How do I learn more?
Visit www.hivmalta.com, our sister site which focuses on HIV. Learn how to protect yourself, how and where to test for HIV and how to live a long an healthy life if you are affected by HIV.
Who do I reach out to for help?
Life with HIV may seem scary, but just know it will be OK. It is also absolutely fine to be scared and anxious. You do not need to suppress your emotions, and you do not need to deal with this alone. Your own doctor and healthcare workers will support you. Reach out to the Rainbow Support Services, who will give you all the help and information you will need.
Always remember that your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical wellbeing.