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⫸STICKY⫷ HIV/AIDS support MEGA thread

ad lib

Feb 9, 2013
Here is the info from the old thread:

*What is AIDS / HIV?*

AIDS means ‘Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome’. It is caused by a retrovirus, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which basically affects your immune system (the body’s defence mechanism). This is the transmittable aspect – you can catch HIV from other people. It does not necessarily lead to full-blown AIDS – lots of people live with HIV but do not contract AIDS for years. However, being HIV positive means that you are much more susceptible to all the minor bacteria, fungi, parasites & viruses that we encounter during life. HIV leaves your body unable to defend itself from these various threats, and thus a common cold can be life-threatening to an HIV sufferer. These are known as ‘opportunistic infections’. There is no cure for AIDS – however, various drugs can reduce the damage to your immune system that HIV causes. Early diagnosis and treatment (even though most HIV sufferers remain asymptomatic for 10 years) can help extend a person’s life.

The HIV virus lives and breeds mostly in the white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting disease. HIV infection usually manifests itself in a reduction of CD4 (or ‘T-helper’) immune cells; as the virus grows it destroys these cells & uses their energy & nutrients to reproduce. The US. Center for Disease Control classifies someone as positive for AIDS when they have had an opportunistic infection, or when the number of CD4 cells has dropped to below 200 per cubic millilitre of blood – a healthy person has from 450 – 1200 CD4 cells per cubic ml. This process is known as a T-cell count.

AIDS is fast becoming one of the most frightening pandemic diseases the human race has encountered. Although it has not yet claimed anywhere near the number of victims that the Black Plague, Typhoid or Malaria have, it is a relatively ‘new’ virus and it is spreading like wildfire. In parts of Africa two thirds of the adult population are infected with HIV. The Joint United Nations HIV/AIDS Programme (UNAIDS) estimates that there are 34 million people infected worldwide; for the benefit of the (mostly) American bluelight community, here are a few sobering facts about HIV in the USA:

- 40,000 people are infected with HIV every year in America. That’s two people every hour of every day in the states alone.
- 1 out of every 250 Americans is HIV positive. half of those carrying the virus have not been tested & do not know about it .
- 430,000 people have been killed by AIDS in the US alone – around 20 million have died worldwide, although obviously these figures are a vast understatement, as many countries lack the medical / demographic abilities to record the actual number of deaths caused by HIV.

HIV is transmitted through the direct contact between an infected party’s bodily fluids (such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk) and the bloodstream of another person. This can
occur as a result of:

- unprotected sex (anal or vaginal). This is a high-risk activity, especially anal sex. Women are more susceptible to catching HIV from vaginal sex than men.
- Unprotected oral sex. This is less of a risk than penetrative sex, but there is still a chance of transmitting / catching the disease, particularly if a) ejaculation occurs or b) the giver / receiver has poor oral hygiene.
- Sharing needles or syringes. This means all types of syringe – whether it is used for administering steroids, smack, blood tests or body piercings. infectious HIV can survive for up to a month in used syringes . I would like to paraphrase PhreeX’s words of wisdom – “there is only one type of rig, that is a clean, packaged, sterilised rig”.
- Infection during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. The American Foundation for AIDS Research recommends that any woman who is pregnant or planning to become so should be tested for HIV. If the virus is found in the mother, then preventative drugs and guidance to avoid breast-feeding can dramatically reduce the chance of HIV passing to the unborn child.

HIV is not transmitted through food or air. It is present in saliva, vomit, feces, sweat and tears – however chances of transmission via these mediums is very unlikely. The AMFAR says: “There has never been a case where a person was infected by a household member, relative, co-worker, or friend through casual or everyday contact such as sharing eating utensils and bathroom facilities or hugging and kissing”. Interestingly, having had a sexually transmitted disease does increase your chances of contracting HIV. Individuals who are HIV positive and contract another STD are 3 to 5 times more likely to transmit the virus. So overall, safe sex is really important. It’s also important to realise that AIDS does not discriminate; everyone is at risk, and your lifestyle choices are the only real steps towards prevention that you can take. Women are four times more likely to contract HIV through vaginal sex than men, so girls – ALWAYS insist on being protected. It’s not worth the risk.

Most people are aware of the various means by which AIDS can be contracted, and the methods we can use to prevent infection. Condoms, dental dams, clean needles, and if you’re going to use a lube, make it a water-based one since oil or petroleum based lubes (e.g. Vaseline) render condoms useless. Just use your head, be safe, and always think of the possible consequences of unprotected sex. Remember that people can carry HIV for decades before showing any symptoms, so just be extra careful. For IV drug users, the CDC has a relevant page on minimising the risk - http://www.cdc.gov/idu/pubs/hiv_prev.htm

*there is hope*

HIV / AIDS sufferers who live in developed countries do have access to a number of drugs that can slow the destructive effects of infection. Some drugs are intended to deal with the opportunistic infections that kill so many HIV sufferers, whilst others are designed to prevent the virus from reproducing and damaging the immune system. The latter fall under two categories:

- Reverse transcriptase inhibitors. These effectively attack an enzyme found in HIV called reverse transcriptase. Abacavir, delavirdine, didanosine (ddI), efavirenz, lamivudine (3TC), nevirapine, stavudine (d4T), zalcitabine (ddC), and zidovudine (AZT) are all reverse transcriptase inhibitors.
- Protease inhibitors are designed to specifically target the HIV enzyme protease. This group of anti-retroviral medicines include amprenavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, and saquinavir.

Those HIV sufferers who are in rich Western countries & who can afford treatment are often prescribed a combination of several of these drugs, in a system known as HAART or highly active antiretroviral therapy. This can be successful in terms of improving the CD4 cell count and reducing the amounts of HIV in the blood. There is a lot of heavily funded scientific research in the HIV/AIDS sector, and around the world people are working on ways of treating, and perhaps most importantly, preventing the transmission of HIV.

However, HIV/AIDS remains a life-threatening illness for the majority of sufferers. Many people do not respond to the various drugs; antiretroviral drugs are often highly toxic, and most worryingly HIV mutates constantly. In 40% of people undergoing HAART the virus mutates to a highly drug-resistant strain.

*what about me?*

even if you look & feel perfectly healthy, you may be infected with HIV. Some of those infected develop mild flu-like symptoms, or persistent swollen glands. The only way to know for sure is to get tested! This is important because a) the earlier you are diagnosed, the better the chances for effective treatment, b) you will be able to take all the right steps to avoid infecting others and c) if you are pregnant, you can dramatically reduce the risk of infecting your child. Bluelighters, please take precautions and please take it seriously as HIV really can happen to you. Below are some resources – first phone lines, then a list of websites - that I found particularly useful / informative. There is a focus on UK, US and Aussie resources as the vast majority of bluelight traffic comes from these regions. Please feel free to add anything you feel might help others.

The USA Center for Disease Control’s AIDS hotline is 1-800-342-2437.

The UK national AIDS helpline is 0800 567 123, there is an ethnic languages service available on 0800 917 2227.

The definitive list of Australian AIDS organisations can be found at http://www.medicalonline.com.au/medi.../resources.htm - there are toll-free numbers included in the list.

AID Atlanta
(404) 872-0600 www.aidatianta.org

AIDS Project Los Angeles (323) 993-1500 www.apia.org

Gay City, Seattle (206) 860-6969 www.gaycity.org

Gay Life, San Francisco AIDS Foundation
(415) 788-LIFE www.gaylife.org

Gay Men's Health Crisis New York City
(212) 367-1000 www.gmhc.org

National AIDS Hotline
English: (800) 342-2437 Spanish: (800) 344-7432

Stop AIDS Project, San Francisco
(415) 575-0150 www.stopaids.org

Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations (2) 221 2955

Eire (AIDS Helpline, Dublin) (1) 872 4277

France (AIDS Ftdtration Nationale)
(1) 53 26 26 26

Germany (Deutsche AIDS-HILFE) (30) 69 00 87-42

Dutch HIV Association (20) 685 0055

(20) 662 4206

Terence Higgins Trust Helpline 0171 242 1010

UK National AIDS Helpline 0800 567 123

National AIDS Helpline (Northern Ireland) 0800 137 437

UK websites:
http://www.kitsch.freeserve.co.uk/support/hiv.htm - excellent list of various support organisations.

http://www.nat.org.uk/ - uk’s leading AIDS advocacy organisation.

http://www.tht.org.uk/ - the terrence Higgins trust.

By far the most comprehensive coverage of all the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS can be found at
the body.com - this site is a superb collection of resources, references & support networks and there is so much information available.

Be safe,

I'm going to work on this & making sure everything is up to date, post links to what the disease is, etc. :)
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ad lib

Feb 9, 2013
What is Human Immunodeficiency Virus

First, let's examine the name itself of the disease.

Human - This particular virus can infect human beings.

Immunodeficiency - HIV weakens your immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. A "deficient" immune system can not protect you properly.

Virus - A virus can only reproduce itself by taking over a cell in the body of its host*.

* A host is an organism that harbors a parasite (in this case, HIV) and provides nourishment and shelter for it.


Our immune system, or body system that fights disease, is pretty smart. Over time, a healthy immune system has the ability to clear the body of a virus that it has contracted- such as the flu or the common cold. However, when one contracts HIV, the body is not able to clear itself of this virus. The reason for this is still unknown and being researched.

HIV destroys cells that are responsible for fighting off infection- these are called the Helper T cells or CD4 cells.

What is a T-Cell or CD4 cell?
CD4 cells or T-cells are the “generals” of the human immune system. These are the cells that send signals to activate your body’s immune response when they detect “intruders,” like viruses or bacteria.
Because of the important role these cells play in how your body fights off infections, it’s important to keep their numbers up in the normal ranges. This helps to prevent HIV-related complications and opportunistic infections.

Here are some quick facts about CD4 cells:

  • A normal CD4 count ranges from 500–1,000 cells/mm3.
  • When your CD4 count is 350 cells/mm3 or less, it’s time to consider treatment.
  • A CD4 count of fewer than 200 cells/mm3 is one of the qualifications for a diagnosis of AIDS.
  • Your CD4 count can vary from day to day. It can also vary depending on the time of day your blood is drawn and on whether you have other infections or illnesses, like the flu or STDs.

What is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)?

Again, let us first consider the name of the disease.

Acquired - AIDS is not genetic. This is a disease that you acquire after birth.

Immuno - pertaining to the immune system.

Deficiency - You get AIDS when your immune system is deficient, or not working properly.

Syndrome - A syndrome is a combination of signs and symptoms of a disease. AIDS is a complex illness with a wide range of signs and symptoms.

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is the final stage of HIV infection. People at this stage of HIV disease have badly damaged immune systems, which put them at risk for opportunistic infections (OIs). An opportunistic infection is an infection or disease that has the opportunity to invade the body due do the body's weakened immune system state.

You will be diagnosed with AIDS if you have one or more specific OIs (such as pneumonia), certain cancers, or a very low number of CD4 cells. If you have AIDS, you will need medical intervention and treatment.

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ad lib

Feb 9, 2013

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers related to HIV/AIDS:

Q: Where did HIV originate from?

A: Scientists identified a type of chimpanzee in West Africa as the source of HIV infection in humans. They believe that the chimpanzee version of the immunodeficiency virus (called simian immunodeficiency virus or SIV) most likely was transmitted to humans and mutated into HIV when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat and came into contact with their infected blood. Over decades, the virus slowly spread across Africa and later into other parts of the world.

Q: How is HIV spread?

A: HIV is most commonly transmitted through specific sexual behaviors (anal or vaginal sex) or sharing needles with an infected person. It is less common for HIV to be transmitted through oral sex or for an HIV-infected woman to pass the virus to her baby before or during childbirth or after birth through breastfeeding or by pre-chewing food for her infant.

Q: Can I get HIV from intravenous drug use?

Yes. At the start of every intravenous injection, blood is introduced into the needle and syringe. HIV can be found in the blood of a person infected with the virus. The reuse of a blood-contaminated needle or syringe by another drug injector (sometimes called "direct syringe sharing") carries a high risk of HIV transmission because infected blood can be injected directly into the bloodstream.

Sharing drug equipment can be a risk for spreading HIV. Infected blood can be introduced into drug solutions by:
  • using blood-contaminated syringes to prepare drugs;
  • reusing water
  • reusing bottle caps, spoons, or other containers ("spoons" and "cookers") used to dissolve drugs in water and to heat drug solutions
  • reusing small pieces of cotton or cigarette filters ("cottons") used to filter out particles that could block the needle.

Q: What are some less common ways of HIV transmission?

A: Though unlikely, there are several ways that this can happen.

  • Receiving blood transfusions or blood products. In developed countries, the blood is rigorously tested.
  • Eating pre-chewed food by someone with HIV.
  • Being bitten by an HIV+ person.
  • Open mouthed kissing with an infected person.

Q: Can HIV live outside of the body?

A: No, it cannot.

Q: How is HIV not transmitted?

A: There are various ways HIV is not transmitted. Here are some of those ways:

  • Air or water.
  • Insects (such as mosquito bites).
  • Tears, sweat, and/or saliva.
  • Shaking hands.
  • Closed mouth kissing.
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ad lib

Feb 9, 2013
HIV Testing

Testing of HIV

As a matter of preventive medicine, everyone should get tested for HIV. Keep in mind that HIV may not appear on a screening test right away, so it is best to get checked 6 months apart to be cautious.

Here is what happens during an HIV test:

Oral Fluid Tests – use oral fluid (not saliva) that is collected from the mouth using a special collection device. This is an EIA antibody test similar to the standard blood EIA test. A follow-up confirmatory Western Blot uses the same oral fluid sample.

Urine Tests – use urine instead of blood. The sensitivity and specificity (accuracy) are somewhat less than that of the blood and oral fluid tests. This is also an EIA antibody test similar to blood EIA tests and requires a follow-up confirmatory Western Blot using the same urine sample.

Rapid HIV Test – A rapid test is a screening test that produces very quick results, in approximately 20 minutes. Rapid tests use blood from a vein or from a finger stick, or oral fluid to look for the presence of antibodies to HIV. As is true for all screening tests, a reactive rapid HIV test result must be confirmed with a follow-up confirmatory test before a final diagnosis of infection can be made. These tests have similar accuracy rates as traditional EIA screening tests.

Home Test –The testing procedure involves pricking a finger with a special device, placing drops of blood on a specially treated card, and then mailing the card in to be tested at a licensed laboratory. Usually the patient is given a phone number to a hot line if any questions arise.

Ribonucleic Acid Test – RNA tests look for genetic material of the virus and can be used in screening the blood supply and for detection of very early infection rare cases when antibody tests are unable to detect antibodies to HIV.

So now that you have your test result, what is the next step?

Negative test result ~ Even if you receive a negative result, take follow up tests on a regular basis to confirm this. This test only reveals *your* HIV status, not your partners. Therefore, make sure your partner gets tested for the disease too. Continue to protect yourself from acquiring the disease.

Positive test result ~ The sooner you take action to deal with the situation, the more success you will have.

It is vital that you immediately seek a healthcare provider to consider your treatment options.

Smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol, or using illegal drugs (such as stimulatnts) can weaken your immune system. There are programs available that can help you stop or reduce your use of these substances. Also, get screened for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Undetected STDs can cause serious health problems. It is also important to practice safe-sex behaviors so you can avoid getting STDs. Take precautionary measures so you prevent passing the disease on to others.

Testing Resources

Canada HIV testing:

Alberta: 1-800-772-2437
British Columbia: 811 or 1-604-215-8110
Manitoba: 1-800-782-2437
Newfoundland and Labrador: 1-800-563-1575
New Brunswick: 1-800-561-4009
Northwest Territories: 1-800-661-0844
Nunavut: 1-800-661-0795
Eastern Arctic: 1-800-661-0795
Nova Scotia: 1-800-566-2437
Ontario: 1-800-668-2437
Prince Edward Island: 1-800-314-2437
Quebec: 1-888-855-7432
Hotline for women living with HIV/AIDS in Quebec: 1-866-240-0090
Saskatchewan: 1-800-667-6876
Yukon: 1-800-661-0408

Click here to enter your zip code to locate a HIV testing site if you live in the United States.

If you live in the United Kingdom, please click here and enter your postcode or town to find a testing site near you.
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Sep 28, 2011
An Altered State
The good news is that there are a lot of treatment options available nowadays. The disease is manageable with what is called HAART therapy although the SOC (standard of care) can be a bit pricy, depending on what your insurance provider is willing to fork over. 30 years ago AIDS was a death sentence, now there is hope. That being said, prevention is the best medicine, use contraceptives and common sense.


Bluelight Crew
May 3, 2014
The good news is that there are a lot of treatment options available nowadays. The disease is manageable with what is called HAART therapy although the SOC (standard of care) can be a bit pricy, depending on what your insurance provider is willing to fork over. 30 years ago AIDS was a death sentence, now there is hope. That being said, prevention is the best medicine, use contraceptives and common sense.
This is good, specially for those who were confronted with antagonism and misinformation.
How are we today on this subject?
I heard another day that girls are not so worried because they know they can get treatment.
They probably don't know this is gonna be for life, so I wander I TV, and series stopped talking about it.
When they do, it seems that protection is only good for not getting pregnant.


Oct 3, 2014
United States
I'm just curious about this. I don't have it, thankfully......... but I was wondering something about it. If someone gets it, is it possible for them to live a relatively normal life with it or are the symptoms and side effects of the medication just overwhelming and miserable for the person. I know it's permanent and incurable, but when it is "managed", does it cause symptoms that impinge on one's life or are symptoms kept minimal?


Bluelight Crew
May 3, 2014
As far as I know it's treatable with plenty of meds and routine medical appointments. I suppose most people adapt but have to deal with a multi clinical treatment to handle all side effects, including social and emotional issues. It must be hard to live like that, assuming that some of them also have hepatitis c, drug rehabilitation etc.


Jul 10, 2010
Sorry, can I just say....

Do you have to put headings in BIG BLOODY BOLD RED LETTERS so that when someone is trying to get advice on this matter, anyone walking by their screen can see what is going on?

Not a rant, but I think that it is something that should be considered.