Do any of your loved ones have AIDS, or have they been diagnosed as HIV-positive? Do you know how to deal with the disease and take care of this person? Here are a few basic facts that you need to know before taking any action.
AIDS is not a social taboo. It is a disease like any other. AIDS does not make people liable to any form of social degradation or loss of dignity. Always remember, contracting AIDS does not change the individuals from how they were before. Their thoughts, beliefs, emotions and achievements are still the same. Abandoning HIV-positive family members or isolating them will just cause emotional trauma and worsen their health.
Living with a family member who has AIDS will not spread AIDS. The right knowledge will ensure a healthy life to the infected person and his or her family. A good caretaker should be well educated and informed of the facts about AIDS and the health needs of the infected individual.
HIV is not transmitted through day-to-day contact with the infected person.
- It will not spread by sharing food, dishes, drinking glasses or drinking fountains.
- It will not be transmitted through pets or from mosquito bites.
- You will not contract AIDS by merely hugging, kissing or shaking hands with an infected person.
- Scratching an infected person will not transmit AIDS.
- Coughing, sneezing, or sharing a toilet seat or bathroom will not transmit AIDS.
The following precautions must be taken to prevent transmission of HIV:
- Avoid any kind of sex or intercourse with the infected individual
- Prevent the use of needles that have come in contact with the infected individual.
- Avoid fluids that have the potential to transmit HIV, including semen, blood, breast milk, vaginal fluid, lymph and other fluids that come in contact with blood.
HIV-positive and AIDS-infected individuals have special dietary needs. Consult your doctor for advice on these needs. Also, maintain high levels of cleanliness and hygiene. A positive frame of mind and healthy thinking will ensure good health for the individual and happiness for his or her family.
Parenting an AIDS child:
- There is hope. AIDS-infected and HIV-positive babies can live long and healthy lives when they receive appropriate medical care
- Follow the recommended dietary and nutritional guidelines for your child.
- A reward system and a positive attitude will encourage your child to take his or her medicines without much hassle.
- Make a medicine schedule and seek your physician’s advice about fostering a positive attitude towards the medication.
- Educate and counsel other members in the family to give as much love and attention to the HIV child as they would to any other baby.
- Inform schoolteachers and friends about your child’s health condition
- Boost the child’s self-confidence.
- Seek help from experts to help your child cope with the social stigma of AIDS.
*Dr. Shuchin Bajaj , Physician based in New Delhi, India