The way we cope with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has changed massively over the past few decades. From a death sentence, HIV has turned into a manageable chronic condition but it’s still important to follow the best practices in terms of diagnostics and treatment.
What will HIV prevention look like in 2020 and beyond? What practices will determine our ability to deal with the spread of the virus and even stop it altogether?
Reducing Infection Rates by 75 Per Cent
To achieve these goals, the UN organisation has a number of primary measures in mind. The first is to ensure access to HIV prevention services to as much as 90 per cent of the world’s population at risk of HIV infection.
In addition, HIV PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis is to be made available to three million high risk individuals across the globe. PrEP is an antiretroviral therapy that can massively reduce the risk of an infection, even when a person comes in contact with the virus through sexual activity or exposure to a contaminated blood samples.
UNAIDS is also working hard to make barrier contraception like condoms readily available and even free. Apart from abstinence, the correct use of condoms is obviously one of the most effective approaches for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.
The organisation is also working on local legislative changes in certain parts of the world to make HIV diagnostics and treatment more readily accessible. In addition, it is attempting to secure funding for HIV prevention research and community-led initiatives.
HIV Prevention in Singapore
When it comes to national initiatives and campaigns, we need to mention the work that Singapore is doing in the realm of HIV prevention.
Over 30 groups and organisations in Singapore worked on a national HIV transmission blueprint to end the spread of the virus by 2030.
According to the participating organisations, over 500,000 people in Singapore are at a risk of acquiring or transmitting the human immunodeficiency virus. These individuals include men who have sex with men, sex workers and even heterosexual men.
The blueprint outlines the roles of entities in both the public and the private sector. It also provides guidance to local communities due to the significant role these could play in terms of increasing awareness and prompting ore individuals to get tested.
Through the blueprint, the organisations hope to improve early HIV detection and to also reduce the risk of viral spread. In addition, the document outlines the steps that have to be undertaken to give HIV positive individuals better support and access to high quality healthcare solutions.
The Singaporean Health Ministry is also involved in the project, as it shares the passion of non-governmental organisations to end the spread of HIV by 2030.
Singapore is known for its highly literate population and the readily available access to high quality medical services. While the blueprint is quite ambitious, these two factors make it possible to achieve the goals set by the document within the specified timeframe.
HIV Prevention on an Individual Level
National initiatives, funding and awareness campaigns are the heart of HIV prevention in the long term. The responsibility undertaken by every single individual, however, happens to be equally important.
So, what can you do as a regular person to combat the spread of the HIV virus and eventually make it a thing of the past?
The first and the most important thing every single individual should do is get tested on a regular basis. Even if you don’t belong to a high risk group or you’re in a trust-filled monogamous relationship, it’s still important to get tested for HIV on a regular basis.
HIV, just like other STDs, comes with an incubation period. If you have gotten infected recently, it may take up to three months for the viral load to build sufficiently and show on a test.
As per international standards, the optimal thing to do is to get tested every three to six months if you are a sexually-active individual.
Those who belong to high risk groups should inquire about HIV PrEP. Even if an eventual exposure to the virus has taken place already, there is something to do. In that instance, the treatment to seek is HIV PEP or post-exposure prophylaxis. HIV PEP works in a manner similar to PrEP, reducing the risk of an HIV infection by more than 90 per cent (depending on the time of the medication administration). The sooner you get your HIV PEP, the better the outcome.
Getting tested and receiving your HIV positive status can be quite devastating but it’s not the end of the world. Effective treatments are available in Singapore, enabling HIV positive individuals to lead healthy and satisfactory long lives.
If you have questions or uncertainties about HIV testing and treatment, visit a local STD clinic like Shim. This is the place where you will get all of your questions answered.
Shim Clinic is one such place that offers reliable consultations, HIV testing, PEP, PrEP and information about the viable HIV treatment options. You will receive your results in as little as 20 minutes and you’ll also be offered friendly guidance about the next steps to undertake.