“Being diagnosed with HIV / AIDS is not a death sentence.” These are the words of Dr Edith Njit epouse Ngarka, Medical Doctor in Yaounde.
The World AIDS Day is around the corner and prior to its commemoration, health facilities like the Yaounde Central Hospital are carrying out sensitisation activities including open door days to enlighten the public.
The sensitisation has been going on yet many are yet to come to terms with the reality that HIV / AIDS can be managed.
A Medical Doctor at the HIV Treatment Centre of the Yaounde University Teaching Hospital (CHU), Dr Edith Njit Ngarka explains how an AIDS patient is managed from the moment the individual is made known of his / her status.
“When someone is diagnosed HIV positive, there are certain things the person has to be informed of so as to be able to maintain a good quality of life. The attitude of the patient towards their condition is also vital for proper follow up and good evolution of the disease,” the Doctor explains.
“The first thing to know about being HIV positive is that the disease is not curable. You will have to live with HIV for the rest of your life like someone with any other chronic disease like hypertension or diabetes. You will be given medication to take for life, and you will need to make routine visits to the doctor every three months for follow up,” she explains.
“Having the HIV virus in your blood does not mean you will become sick. You only fall sick when the concentration of the virus is too high in your blood. It weakens your immune system and makes it vulnerable to disease,” she adds.
The medical expert then goes on to explain the work of anti retroviral drugs (ARVs), “They have as role to stop the multiplication of the HIV virus and bring down the concentration of the virus to non-detectable levels. This way, the immune system is no longer vulnerable to opportunistic infections and the person is not likely to transmit the virus.”
Some good news…
Dr Edith reassures AIDS patients that they can lead a normal life. “Regular intake of medication and respect of routine visits to the hospital is vital for a good quality of life. Anybody who is HIV positive and has non-detectable viral loads can lead a normal life: work, marry and have children who are not infected.”
“During your routine visits to the doctor, your general clinical state and adherence to therapy will be assessed. You will be required to do a series of laboratory tests at least once a year to check for the efficiency of medication and any side effects.”
Some people however, do not respond well to treatment due to drug resistance. In such cases, the Doctor explains, another combination of ARVs are administered to the patient.
The medical expert however notes that not taking drugs regularly and not respecting the hours for drug intake is one of the causes of drug resistance.
“In summary, being diagnosed with HIV is not a death sentence. All you need to do is to take your medication and respect your routine visits to the hospital. You will then lead a normal life like any other person not infected with the virus,” Dr Edith Njit epouse Ngarka concludes.
With such explanations from a medical doctor, persons living with HIV / AIDS are reassured of a normal life in spite of their condition.
Eleanor Ayuketah Ngochi