HIV/AIDS Facts & Frequent Q&A

Living positively with HIV

1)  HIV does not mean the end of your life

HIV does not mean the end of your life; you can live positively with HIV.

There are thousands of people in the world who are HIV positive and carry-on normal lives. Today, for many people, HIV infection is treated as a chronic medical condition. Become informed. Visit your closest VCT – Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre; ask for information on treatment and lifestyle. Do not delay. Share this information with your relatives and friends.

2)   The difference between HIV and AIDS

People often speak about HIV and AIDS together, so some think that they are the same thing but they are not!

HIV stands for Human Immune-deficiency Virus.  This virus gradually destroys the body’s ability to fight disease and infection.  Once the body can not defend itself very well anymore, then people develop what is called AIDS – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.  This is the phase where the HIV positive person becomes sick or ill. It usually happens quite a number of years after the infection.  During the AIDS phase people’s bodies are no longer able to fight off diseases and they become very weak. Without the proper treatment, they will pass away very soon.

Medical treatment, together with good nutrition and a good lifestyle can postpone the AIDS phase for a very long time. HIV positive people should eat healthy food, drink plenty of water, get some exercise, enough rest, and avoid things like tobacco and alcohol. If you have been infected by HIV, then look after your body, you can help to delay the onset of AIDS for many, many years…

3)     Do you know your HIV status?

If you are worried that you have become infected with HIV, make the decision today to be counseled and tested. Do not delay. The sooner you know your status, the better.

With an early diagnosis of HIV, you can get the proper care. This will allow you to live a longer and more normal life. We encourage you to visit a VCT – Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre, today!

4)   Have you visited a Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre (VCT)?

The HIV epidemic is a major public health problem. When it is diagnosed early the HIV infection can be controlled.

We encourage you to visit an HIV Counselling and Testing Centre. This is the best way to get the right information and to know your HIV status. Trained staff will inform you about what behaviors to avoid in order to prevent HIV infection, and they will help you understand how to deal with the infection in case you find that you are HIV positive.

5)    Know your HIV status (part 1)

Do you know whether you have been infected by HIV?  Are you sure? 

It is important to know your HIV status.  If you have been infected by HIV then there are many things that you can do to prolong your life and there are powerful medications that can be used to help prevent the onset of AIDS, but for the treatment to be effective, it must be started before it is too late! It is important that you know your status as early as possible to ensure the best possible treatment results.

Get yourself checked for HIV infection.  Knowing your status could be the difference between living a long and productive life, or illness and untimely death.  

6)    Know your HIV status (Part 2)

How can I know if I have been infected by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS?  This is a question that many people ask.

The truth is that you can carry the infection for many years before you begin to see any signs or experience any symptoms; by that time it might be too late to get effective treatment.  The only sure way to find out if you have been infected is to go for voluntary counselling and testing (VCT). Here you will be counselled on what to do if you are infected, and on how to prevent becoming infected if you are not.  A blood sample will be taken and tested for the virus.  The counsellor will confidentially give you your results and the necessary counselling.

Knowing your status could help to lengthen your life. It will ensure that you get the right treatment, in the right dosages, at the right time.  Get yourself tested! Be a good example to others and ensure yourself a long and productive life.

Sharing activities with those infected with HIV

7)    Working with those infected

Do you work with someone who is infected with HIV?  If so, then remember that this colleague is facing a special challenge.  He or she needs your love and support.   Working with the person is not a risk to you; you can not get AIDS from casual contact.  Rather than shunning and isolating the infected person, show them the real meaning of Christian love. 

There are many people in our communities who are suffering directly or indirectly from the HIV epidemic. Show them love and compassion. Be supportive. Become an agent of Hope and Healing for those in your community who are infected with HIV.  

8) Church practices – How safe is to share with someone HIV positive?

People in your church who are infected with HIV need your love and support, and you can safely give this to them. 

You can not get infected through casual contact; you won’t get HIV from drinking from the same cup or sharing a toilet with someone infected by HIV.  The virus can’t be caught when being baptised with someone who is infected or through the foot-washing ceremony. It is totally safe to share communion with people infected with HIV. 

Jesus was our example. Jesus loved and cared for all those in need and He wants us to do the same.  Go on, hug someone infected by HIV today, you can be the arms of Jesus spreading love and compassion around to those who need it most.

9)  Is it safe to live with HIV infected people?

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be transmitted from one person to another through sexual intercourse, from a mother to her child during childbirth or breastfeeding, and sometimes through contact with the blood of an infected person.  The most common form of blood transmission is among drug users who share injection needles, and through other practices involving contaminated sharp objects.

HIV is not transmitted by hugging or eating or drinking or sharing a toilet or any of the other ways that some people sometimes say it might be. You should however take precautions, especially when you assist someone who has reached an advanced stage of AIDS and has opportunistic infections, like TB and so on, which you could catch. Get informed about HIV and AIDS.

It is safe to live and work with people infected by HIV. Don’t shun these people; they need your love and support.  You can safely show the love of Jesus to those around you who are infected by HIV.

Caring for those living with HIV and AIDS

10)  Helping the ones infected and affected by the HIV epidemic       

Sometimes we ask ourselves: What can I do about the HIV epidemic that is affecting almost every family in Africa? But we don’t know…

If you know anybody who has been touched by the epidemic,give that person support. In order to bring Hope and Healing to our relatives and friends, we need to sacrifice some of our own time and resources. Have you experienced how rewarding it is to share some of our resources with others? We can bring Hope in the form of clothes or school supplies for an orphan. We can bring Hope in the form of food parcels or other necessities.

Experienced the healing power of visiting and praying for someone in the hospital! Get involved in actions of Love and Compassion towards people infected and affected by HIV, today. 

11)   Caring for those living with HIV

In the time of Christ many believed that leprosy was a punishment from God for sins committed, and as a result, those affected did not deserve support or compassion.  That was a wrong attitude because God is a loving and compassionate God.  Jesus loved and cared for all in need.

Today, many still believe that those infected with HIV or living with AIDS are guilty of sin and so are not worthy of love and care.  HIV and AIDS is not a punishment from God. All suffering and disease in this world is the result of the appearance of sin in this world, and we are all aware we have sinned in one way or another…

But Jesus came to bring relief from sin and suffering, and commanded us to care for those in need; this includes those infected with HIV and AIDS. Become Jesus’ hands and feet in caring for those living with HIV. Give your support to those infected and affected by HIV.

12)    Get Involved, help those infected and affected by the HIV epidemic

Jesus told a story in the Bible (Matthew 25:35-36) about how he would recognize His followers at the end of time: The “sheep” would be separated from the “goats.” He said He would know who His sheep were:  For, I was hungry, He said, and you fed me, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me…”  Which group do you want to belong to? His sheep, or the goats?

HIV/AIDS is a terrible epidemic that is devastating communities everywhere, but it provides us with an opportunity to demonstrate the love of Jesus in a very practical way. Out there in your neighborhood, there are orphans who need your help, people suffering with AIDS, who need your assistance. Get involved today. Help someone infected or affected by the HIV epidemic.  

13) Care Givers (Part 1)

Are you looking after someone infected with HIV?  If so, then, you are doing the work of Jesus; if not, you can become His hands in assisting people who are living with HIV and sharing His love and compassion with them.

Looking after someone that is sick can be difficult at times, but looking after someone infected with HIV can present a special challenge.  Remember that there are things you should do to protect yourself as you care for people in an advanced stage of AIDS.

You can easily help people with a weakened immune system to eat a balanced diet, drink enough clean water, breath fresh air and, if possible, get some exercise.  This will all help to boost their immune system and add years to their lives.

14)  Care Givers (Part 2)

This is a special message for Care Givers who are looking after people infected with HIV:  Please don’t stop; the world needs you and your loving, caring nature; but please do take care of yourself.  You won’t get infected with HIV through casual contact but you must remember to take precautions when handling body fluids like blood, secretions, or any other body fluids.  Make sure that your hands are covered: if you don’t have proper gloves, then, remember that you can use a plastic bag.  Once you have finished taking care of your love one, wash your hands carefully with soap and water. 

Please, keep doing this important work; but remember to take care of yourself too.

Children and youth education on Human Sexuality

15) Children and youth education on Human Sexuality

Parents, talk to your children about human sexuality, If you don’t, someone else will.  They can either learn about God’s gift of love in marriage or they will learn about it the wrong way.  Today, HIV infection is claiming thousands of young lives. You can contribute to the prevention of HIV infections by teaching your children about sexuality as a gift from God and how to prevent this disease. Parents, you can make a difference! 

16) Talk to Your Children

As a parent, HIV and AIDS is a frightening thing, but it is important to understand that you are not powerless against this disease.  You can help protect your children against this infection.  No, there is no vaccine, but there are things you can do to help to prevent their infection.

HIV is one of the many infections that are transmitted through sexual contact.  If we want to help our children avoid these illnesses then we must talk to them about human sexuality.  We need to talk openly and honestly and not spread myths or scary stories.  We need to help our children understand that sex is a wonderful gift from God, but a gift that He intended to be enjoyed within the confines of marriage.

Don’t let tradition, embarrassment, or shame keep you quiet; talk to your children about sex, if you don’t then someone else will…

17)  God created human sexuality – Abstinence and Faithfulness

God created human sexuality, it was His idea!  This might seem shocking, outrageous, difficult to believe, but it is true.  The media so often shows a wrong image of sex that we may think that the devil invented it.  The devil can’t create anything he can only try to pervert what God has made, and he has certainly done this with sex. 

But sexuality is still a wonderful gift from God and He wants it to be enjoyed by a husband and wife. 

Young people, don’t settle for the devil’s cheap imitation; it often simply leads to despair and disease.  God wants you to enjoy His gift at the right time, with the right person.  Wait until you are married to enjoy this wonderful gift of God.  HIV is bringing too much suffering into this world. Practice abstinence while you are single and be faithful after you get married.

Preventing your children from getting infected with HIV

18)  Youth and risky behaviours

Have you asked yourself: What can I do to help my children avoid risky behaviours? I am referring to those behaviours that lead to the use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and to early sexual activities.

One of the most effective methods is to establish close relationships with your children. Be connected with them, and spend enough quality time with them, listening to them, playing with them.

It has been proved that the youth who are the most resilient against risky behaviors, and therefore safest against HIV, are those who have the strongest family support, and support from their school and church. Encourage your children to become involved in community service activities. Young people who are involved in helping others are less likely to become involved in high-risk activities that may lead to HIV infection.

Peer education on HIV/AIDS

19)  An important role you can play in the HIV prevention

Did you know that you can play a very important role in fighting HIV and AIDS? We invite you to get reliable information on HIV and to pass it on to others. In this way, you can become a peer educator. You can inform your relatives and friends as well as your neighbours. Learn how the virus is transmitted and how people can prevent it. Encourage your relatives and friends to practise abstinence and faithfulness, and if not, to protect themselves.

Get this vital information and pass it on. We need your help to fight this epidemic.

20)  Young leaders & peer counselling

Young man, young woman: are you a follower or a leader?  Are you just going to go along with the crowd or do you have the courage to lead? 

AIDS is raging through our communities leaving death and misery in its path. The world needs young people who are willing to stand up and lead their peers. You can be an important part of the fight against HIV and AIDS.  How? Get informed about HIV and AIDS, and then practice peer counseling with your classmates or work colleagues, with your relatives and friends. You can make a difference.

Educating the Church on Human Sexuality and HIV/AIDS

21)  Leaders Lead – Teach groups.

Pastors, Elders, Sabbath-School Teachers and Youth Leaders, when last did you speak to your congregation about Human Sexuality?  Yes, you heard me right I said Human Sexuality…  HIV and AIDS is infecting and affecting millions of people, and thousands of people are dying every day from AIDS related illnesses – even in the church!  You can stick your head in the sand and pretend that this is not so, but the problem won’t just go away.  HIV is mainly transmitted through sexual contact and people need honest, accurate information to avoid becoming one of those infected with HIV.

As a church, we have a responsibility which we cannot neglect and we should not fail. Becoming part of the solution to HIV may mean that we have to move out of our comfort zone and talk about things that up to now, we have not been comfortable discussing.  Take up the challenge! You could help to save someone’s life.

22)  The A B C of HIV Prevention

What’s the most effective way to prevent HIV? It’s as easy as A,B,C!

A is for Abstinence, abstain from sex until you are in a committed marriage relationship. is for Be faithful. Once you are in that relationship, be faithful to your partner and be sure that your partner is faithful to you. 

These first two rules are the most important in preventing infection.  But unfortunately, we know that people don’t always live up to the ideal of A and B, and so, C is for Condom.  If you choose not to follow God’s ideal plan for your life, then please use a condom.  Condoms do reduce the risk of becoming infected by HIV. However, they do not offer 100% protection. Remember the order: A and B are ideal if you can’t live up to them (or you suspect that your partner doesn’t), then use C.

23) Never stop your ARV treatment…!

HIV and AIDS are affecting the whole world. If you are infected with HIV and you are under treatment with anti-retro-viral drugs or ARVs, remember that you should not stop your treatment unless your professional health provider says so.

Stopping your treatment on your own, can lead to virus resistance and could limit your future access to treatment. Always consult with your health professional or your closest HIV/AIDS Counselling Centre. Good advice will help you feel better. 

24) Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission – PMTCT

Mothers, this message is for you!

If you are pregnant and infected with HIV then you want to try to make sure that your baby is not also infected.  Three out of ten babies born to HIV+ women become infected, but there are ways of reducing the chance of your baby becoming infected.  Try not to deliver the baby at home but get to a hospital, tell the doctors and nurses that you are HIV positive.  There are medicines that they can use to reduce the risk of infecting your baby.

Once the baby is born be careful breast-feeding your baby; this is usually the best way to feed your baby but HIV infected mothers can pass the virus to their children through breastfeeding. Ask your local clinic for alternatives to breast milk.

Healthy Lifestyle is a preventive medicine that works!

25)  Hope for People Infected by HIV

HIV and AIDS are affecting the whole world, and it brings despair to millions of people.  If you are infected with HIV, then, we want you to know that AIDS does not mean the end of your life, there is Hope.

Until Jesus comes again in glory, disease and death will be part of life on this earth, but today you can make the decision to improve your health and continue living a long and productive life, pretty much like anyone else.

Health science has made big advances and there are now powerful medicines that can help you delay the onset of AIDS and help you live a normal and productive life.

Eating a balanced diet, abstaining from tobacco and alcohol and getting fit through exercise, all will help to strengthen your immune system.  Living a healthy lifestyle can double the time it takes before infection leads to the symptoms of AIDS. 

We all look forward to that great and glorious day when God will cure all illness and death will forever be forgotten.  

26)  HIV is not anymore a death sentence

If you discover that you are infected with HIV you don’t have to lie down and die.  It is possible to Live Positively with HIV.

Take charge of your life, get fit and eat a balanced diet, if you smoke or drink alcohol, stop.  Practice a healthy lifestyle.

Get informed. Get proper counseling. Visit your closest Medical Centre and request information on where and how you could be treated. AIDS does not have the final say – you do.

What can the local church do to help with the HIV epidemic?

27) A huge challenge can be met by our large church resources

More than 60% of all the people in the world, who are infected by HIV, live in sub-Saharan Africa; this is a huge challenge.  In this same region, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has more than four and a half million members, more than sixteen thousand five hundred churches, hundreds of schools and educational institutions, and many hospitals and clinics.  This is a large resource!  If each church was to become involved in helping to fight this disease, we could make a huge impact on this epidemic.

It is the Mission of AAIM to ensure that every institution, each church, and every member becomes a centre or an agent of Hope and Healing for those infected and/or affected with HIV. In other words, a support centre for your community.

You, your church, your group of friends can play a part in fighting both the disease and its impact on people. Organize support groups in your church to help the people in need.

You can be a centre of Hope and Healing.  Get involved today!

What can I do to help with the HIV epidemic?

28) Too large a problem

HIV/AIDS is infecting tens of millions of people; thousands are dying every day leaving behind millions of orphans. The problem is huge and it seems to overwhelm us. 

As an individual I may feel that there is not much I can do to stop the epidemic, or not much I can do to help the millions in need; but surely I CAN help that one person near me. 

I can offer a word of encouragement to that person who is discouraged by the burden of infection, I can provide a meal for a hungry orphan, I can share the love of Jesus with a friend that is ill.  If each of us was to reach out to one or two people around us who are in need, then you and I together, hand in hand with Jesus, can overcome the challenge of HIV and AIDS.

HIV/AIDS and Trust in God

29) Trust in God

Living in this world we face many challenges, and life is not easy.  Sin has brought disease, death and sorrow to God’s perfect creation.  You may be experiencing financial difficulties, marital or family problems; you may be living with a life threatening condition like AIDS, or coping with the death of a loved-one. 

In these situations even our closest and most well meaning friends struggle to understand the depth of our despair, but remember that God knows and understands.  He wants to share your burden with you. 

No matter what you may have done, where you might be or when the last time that you spoke to Him was, God wants to comfort you; He wants to bring you hope and He promises healing for your soul.  In this, God will never fail you.

30)  Are you on treatment? – Trust in God helps!

If you are HIV positive and on treatment, then there are some things that are important for you to remember.

It is very important that you take the medicines that the doctor gave you, exactly as he instructed you to. Adherence to the treatment plan is important. That means that you should faithfully take your medicines.

A small change in taking your treatment can have a big impact on how well the medicines work.  Once you have taken the medicines properly, then, remember that you can help your body’s immune system to regain a good part of its strength. You can do this by eating healthy foods, drinking enough water, breathing good clean air, ensuring a balance between exercising and getting enough rest.  Finally, remember that trust in God reduces stress, brings peace, and a sense of assurance of victory in your life.

Remember, there is Hope with HIV and AIDS

This is a message of Hope and Healing brought to you by

AAIM – Adventist AIDS International Ministry