The HIV/AIDS problem today has affected many people in one way or another. For any person, their family and friends, the diagnosis of HIV infection is associated with a tremendous psychological shock. People living with HIV are shocked at first, and then there is a period of adaptation to their new status. Along with it, a state of hope, a burst of energy, a desire to live, is often created; they are particularly happy with the simplest things. Many HIV-positive people really do have a change in their whole lives.
And the patient’s fate will depend on how relatives and friends build their relationships if there is an HIV-infected person in the family.
HIV-positive person in the family, what is this?
It is important for the relatives of an HIV-infected person to know: HIV (immunodeficiency virus) is not transmitted through everyday life; it is possible to live with HIV for a long time and fully; HIV-infected person needs a good meal, a quiet environment, and a good rest. HIV(+) person does not need pity, stress, excessive care. An HIV-positive person has the same rights as any person.
If there is an HIV-infected person in the family. It is necessary to know the protection measures against HIV infection. It is possible to get infected through sexual intercourse, through blood (parenterally) and vertically (from mother to child).
Prevention of sexual transmission: avoid sexual intercourse during menstruation (it is also dangerous for the woman and her partner);
Use condoms and latex napkins for oral and anal sex; after sexual intercourse, use special solutions (antiseptics) of local action.
To prevent HIV infection through blood: use individual syringes, needles, tools, if taking drugs. Always use individual disinfected personal hygiene items (toothbrushes, razors, manicure supplies). In case of accidental cuts, injections, abrasions, avoid getting biological fluids (blood, semen, vaginal secretion, breast milk) on damaged skin and mucous membranes. In case of bleeding, help with rubber gloves.
In a home medicine cabinet you should have: ethyl alcohol 70%, iodine 50% alcohol solution, bandage, absorbent cotton, fingertips, rubber gloves; chlorine (3% or more chlorine-containing products, such as bleach “White”); hydrogen peroxide 6%.
Close people providing first aid to HIV-infected should avoid cuts and accidental injections, seal wounds with bactericidal adhesive tape, and use rubber gloves for protection. In case of emergency situation with relatives after the first aid, it is necessary to contact the medical facility within 72 hours to receive chemoprophylaxis.
To be able to help a loved one, learn as much about HIV and AIDS as possible from specialized literature. If you still have an unconscious fear of getting infected through domestic contact, talk to specialists about contingencies (for example, how to behave when a person with HIV is injured, or has contact with blood), consult on first aid, and have a first aid kit. Specialists from AIDS Centers, infectious disease offices will help you in this.
Common behavioural mistakes with HIV-positive person
Do not forget that a person and only himself should make the main decisions about how to live, how to maintain their health, how to eat and rest, who, when and how to say (or not say) about their HIV status.
It is quite natural that you want to help your loved one to stay healthy. However, relatives and friends often make mistakes that can cause serious, even irreparable harm. These are the most common of these mistakes:
- excessive guardianship and constant reminders to the person that he/she has a dangerous disease. Think about whether this behavior is dictated by your own fear or guilt. Deal with your psychological problems and try not to tolerate them on the person close to you. There is a big difference between reasonable care, which is expressed in the creation of a healthy atmosphere in the house, a timely reminder to take a medicine, the necessary care in case of illness – and obsessive care, which generates depression, alienation and feelings of helplessness. In order not to make a mistake, pay attention to the way the person close to you reacts to your care.
- tips to refer to alternative methods of treatment. Around the world and in our country there are many healers who promise a radical cure for HIV infection and AIDS. So far there are no officially registered cases of such a cure, but there are a lot of cases when using healers has resulted in death.
- advice to stop taking medication that causes side effects. This is especially dangerous if the patient is prescribed combined antiviral therapy: cancelling or skipping the medication will lead to the development of drug-resistant strains of the virus in the body, and this will deprive the patient of the possibility of treatment in the future.
The suffering of a loved one causes very strong both negative and positive emotions in the soul of the one who helps, and this is natural. You have to accept it calmly and not to blame yourself. The main task is not to hustle around the person with HIV, but to make him understand what you are going through together with him and understand him. It is especially important to stop helping in time, understanding that the person can cope on his or her own to restore the feeling of independence. People with HIV often worry about the imminent loss of their independence, so it is important to let them feel useful both in their daily lives and at work. The most important type of assistance is to “just be with the person,” although it is not so easy.
HIV infection is not only a medical problem, but first of all a social one. It is solved with the active participation of HIV-infected people themselves. The community of people living with HIV and their loved ones advocates for the rights of HIV(+) and provides mutual assistance. Such support extends his life, improves its quality.
Do not forget that support is needed not only for your loved one living with HIV/AIDS, but also for you. Try to stick together and take care of each other. AIDS service organizations are always ready to help also relatives and friends of their clients, so do not hesitate to contact them when you need to learn something or share your feelings and problems.