HIV & AIDS: Get smart & know the facts!

HIV is the short name for a germ (virus) that attacks your body's way of staying healthy and fighting off disease. You catch it from another person that has the HIV in their body. Anyone can get it, so you have to take it seriously.

HIV = Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Why is it called 'Human'? Because it only affects humans. The word 'Immunodeficiency' means the immune system is weak, which is your body's way of protecting you from sickness and disease.

AIDS = Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

When people say you 'have AIDS', it means that your body is very weak and can get sick more easily and can die if you are not treated.

Simply put, when HIV attacks your body it kills off your soldier cells, called CD4 cells. But doctors have found a way to keep it under control using very strong medicines called antiretrovirals (ARVs). If you take these medicines every day, it will fight off the HIV germs (virus) and you can live a longer healthy life. If you don't take the medicine to fight it, then you won't have enough CD4 cells to fight off any germ (virus), will get very sick and can even die.

The best way to stay safe and be smart when it comes to HIV is to:

  1. Choose not to have sex (abstain)
  2. Be safe and wear a condom if you have sex
  3. Take an HIV-test if you think you may have caught HIV in some way.

Remember, if you are 12 years and older you don't need your parents' permission to get an HIV test but it’s always best to talk to them about it.

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BWise Moderators 23 March 2017 09:00

Mampe asked on facebook: is there a pill that can rectify a deformed body because of old ARV'S(line2)?

B-Wise Expert Expert 23 March 2017 09:05

Hi Mampe, Thanks for your question. Sadly there is no quick fix to these changes. Some of the old ARVs, if taken for a long time, did cause changes in the body shape of some people. However, new ARVs are less likely to have this effect. Talk to your nurse or doctor if you are worried about changes in your body shape so that they can check if it does come from any of your ARVs, and so that they can help you to work on a diet or exercise programme to help you.

BWise Moderators 23 March 2017 09:00

Mampe asked on facebook: Is it possible for a Child to be HIV+ but both Parents are HIV-?

B-Wise Expert Expert 23 March 2017 09:04

Hi Mampe. Thank you for this interesting question. This is only possible if the HIV was transmitted to them by another adult besides their parents – for example, if they were breastfed by someone who was HIV-positive, if they were sexually abused or raped, or if they were exposed to HIV-infected blood through a blood transfusion or intravenous drugs. For most children with HIV, the HIV was transmitted from their mother during pregnancy or breastfeeding. 

ndukutwala 27 December 2016 08:30

I have read that Pill (Prep) Truvada is available in other HTA site (sex worker site) which HTA? Specifically in which provinces or districts in South Africa?

B-Wise Expert Expert 27 December 2016 15:03

PrEP stands for Pre Exposure Prophylaxis and is the use of antiretroviral medicines (ARVs) as one tablet a day to prevent someone from getting HIV. It is available in some clinics in South Africa at the moment for people at high risk of getting HIV. 

mogau 30 May 2016 11:16

is the Pill( Prep) Truvada now available at public health clinics

B-Wise Expert Expert 30 May 2016 14:52

It's really great that you are interested in protecting yourself. At this moment in time PrEP is only available at specific sex worker sites from 1 June 2016. But remember that there are other ways that you can also protect yourself from HIV, such as wearing a condom every time you have sex, abstinence or MMC.