Summary of Study Session 20
In Study Session 20, you have learned that:
- At the time of writing, the HIV prevalence in Ethiopia is 2.4%, and an estimated 1.2 million people live with the virus; prevalence is much higher in urban than in rural areas, and more women than men are infected.
- HIV affects the immune system by destroying the CD4 lymphocytes, which ‘help’ all the other white blood cells to defend the body against infection.
- Infected CD4 lymphocytes produce many new copies of HIV and then die. The new viruses infect other CD4 lymphocytes, which make more new viruses and die, until so many CD4 lymphocytes are destroyed that the immune system weakens, and the PLHIV develop opportunistic infections.
- The first few years with an HIV infection are usually healthy, or with only mild symptoms; the person may not know they are infected and can transmit HIV to others.
- It may take 5–10 years following HIV infection to develop more serious opportunistic infections and progress to AIDS (in the absence of ART).
- HIV is transmitted by sexual intercourse, by contact with infected blood and from mother to child.
- The highest risk of sexual transmission is through unprotected anal sex, but the most common route is unprotected vaginal sex.
- There are many myths about HIV transmission; educate your community that it cannot be transmitted by normal personal and social contacts with PLHIV, or contact with air, water, common objects or biting insects.