Singapore | Shim Clinic
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in Singapore: A reliable HIV clinic in Singapore, Shim Clinic gives you access to an array of diagnostic, testing and consultancy services linked to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Shim Clinic specialises in men’s sexual health and solutions aimed at targeting an array of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The range of sexually transmitted diseases we manage includes HIV infections and the subsequent acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
If you need assistance increasing your HIV awareness and learn what the best screening or treatment options are, the health professionals at Shim Clinic can offer reliable assistance seven days per week.
What Is HIV
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus is transmitted sexually and via blood transfusions/exposure to contaminated blood samples. If left untreated, in time it can progress to AIDS.
AIDS is a chronic, life-threatening condition that’s the final stage of the HIV infection. The virus targets the immune system and reduces the body’s natural ability to fight off pathogens and other disease-causing agents. Without medications, it takes the virus several years to damage the body’s natural defence mechanisms to the point that AIDS will develop.
How is HIV Transmitted?
HIV gets transmitted through bodily fluids like:
- Vaginal fluids
- Rectal fluids
- Breast milk
Casual contact, air and water do not contribute to the spread of the virus. Thus, it’s important to understand that HIV DOES NOT SPREAD through:
- Skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual
- Hugging, hand shaking and kissing an infected individual
- Sharing food and drinks, eating from the same container or using the same spoon/fork
- Tears and sweat
- Sharing the same bathroom with an HIV-positive individual
- Mosquitoes and other insect bites
Without treatment, a person who is HIV positive will eventually progress to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), also referred to as late-stage HIV or advanced HIV. This is the final and the most advanced stage of the HIV infection. There is no cure for AIDS and without supportive treatment, the life expectancy of an individual is about three years. People who have AIDS could also develop a severe opportunistic infection (like pneumonia, for example) that the body’s immune system would have been capable of tackling otherwise.
The development of AIDS means that the immune system is already severely compromised. Thus, it’s weakened beyond the point of being capable of fighting off most diseases and opportunistic infections.
HIV is No Longer a Death Sentence
Luckily, various treatment and preventative measures have already been developed so that HIV infections are no longer death sentences. When the right combination of antiretroviral medications is chosen, a person that’s HIV-positive can live a long and fulfilling life.
What Causes HIV
Since HIV gets transmitted through bodily fluids, there are several possibilities for becoming infected.
Unprotected sex is one of the main ways to get the viral infection. HIV can spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex. The virus can enter your body through mouth sores and small tears, hence oral sex is not safe without the use of barrier protection.
Sharing needles can also contribute to the spread of HIV since a used needle is already contaminated with one person’s blood. Blood transfusions also pose some risk, although strenuous testing of blood samples has been introduced and it has become the norm across the world.
HIV can also pass from mother to baby during pregnancy, during birth and through breastfeeding. Mothers who are HIV-positive and who are put on medications over the course of their pregnancy bring down the risk of passing the infection to their child.
There are a couple of risk factors that increase the risk of contracting HIV:
- Having sex without condoms
- Having another type of STD or an infection that causes genital sores
- Using intravenous drugs
- Receiving unsafe injections, blood transfusions and other medical procedures
- Non sterile piercing and other cosmetic procedures of a similar nature
- Accidental needle injuries (especially among medical workers)
All cases of HIV will progress through three stages.
The Acute Stage
The first one is the acute stage and it occurs a couple of weeks after the infection. People who have an acute HIV infection will eventually develop symptoms that are similar to those of flu:
- Generalised weakness and fatigue
- Muscle aches
- Fever and chills
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Night sweats and insomnia
- Loss of appetite
- The potential appearance of sores and ulcers in the mouth or in the genital region
Some people will experience only a few of those early symptoms. Some will have no symptoms at all, which is why reliable HIV testing happens to be so important.
As the virus continues to multiply and target the immune system cells, the range of symptoms will become wider or the strength of an individual symptom will grow. People that have uncontrolled, progressing HIV infection will experience some or all of the following symptoms after the end of the acute stage and well into the chronic stage:
- Excessive sweating, followed by chills and vice versa
- Recurring fevers
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Unusual lesions or ulcers that are very persistent in the mouth and on the tongue
- Unexplained fatigue, general weakness
- Weight loss
- Skin rashes
Clinical Latency Stage
The second stage of the HIV infection is called clinical latency, since there will be no signs or symptoms. This is the chronic stage that follows the first acute reaction of the body to the virus.
The third and final stage of the HIV infection is the progression to AIDS.
Contact Us Immediately
If you believe that you’re exhibiting some of these symptoms and you could have been infected, talk to us immediately for testing. Another opportunity you have is to visit our clinic in Singapore and get yourself tested.
Our HIV Clinic Provides Reliable Testing
We have highly sensitive and highly accurate HIV tests. To get a reliable result, you will need to go for screening at the right time.
A general recommendation is to get tested anywhere between two and four weeks after the eventual exposure. Have another test after three months have passed just to be sure. The viral load in the body takes some time to build up, which is why earlier testing could produce inconclusive results.
Both blood and saliva testing can be used to detect the viral load. Some of the most common types of HIV tests include the following:
Antibody and Antigen Tests
These are the most commonly used types of screening options. Antibody/antigen tests can detect the virus anywhere between 18 and 45 days following exposure. As the name suggests, the blood of an individual is checked for antibodies and antigens to the virus. Antibodies are usually formed six four to six weeks after an infection and for antigens to appear, it would sometimes take up to six months.
The second screening variety checks solely for antibodies that the body produces in response to the viral attack. Antibody tests are usually the ones that produce the fastest results. There are at-home kits for HIV testing (not approved and available for use in Singapore) and these are based on the principle. The human body needs anywhere between 23 and 90 days to produce detectable HIV antibodies.
Antibody tests are performed by drawing a blood sample or through a mouth swab. Depending on the type of test used, results can be provided in as little as 15 to 20 minutes.
If you somehow end up doing a home kit test, you will potentially get unreliable results. Doing the test too early or lacking the knowledge required for proper administration could give you a false result.Keep in mind that if you do an antibody test at home and it comes back as negative, you should repeat the test (preferably in a clinic) three months after the risky activity or the suspected exposure to the virus. An early negative does not necessarily mean that you’re HIV-negative
Nucleic acid test (NAT)
A very costly kind of test that is not utilised in general screening scenarios. NAT tests are reserved for those who demonstrate early HIV symptoms or who belong to high risk groups (for example, sex workers). NAT tests do not look for antibodies or antigens. The test detects the virus itself in the blood of a person and it’s accurate as early as five days after the infection has occurred. Once the results of a NAT test are ready, they’re further confirmed through the administration of a common antibody test.
Following a positive diagnosis, a person will usually be retested before being enrolled in a treatment programme. Such safety protocols are followed to rule out eventual errors.
In Singapore, everyone has effortless and reliable access to HIV testing options. If you want to explore the possibilities or get more information, visit Shim Clinic or give us a call today. You can reach us at(+65) 6446-7446. We’ll let you know exactly how and when you can get tested.
HIV infections can be treated. While there are no cures for HIV and AIDS yet, the supportive therapy developed through the years allows HIV-positive individuals to lead long and active lives.
Antiretroviral therapy is a common term used for all of the medications that prevent the virus from replicating. There are several kinds of pills that combine multiple antiretroviral agents to give HIV-positive individuals the best possible dose in one.
Each class of HIV drugs works in a specific way. Some of the most common mechanisms of blocking HIV replication include maximising the suppression of viral activity, accounting for individual drug resistance and preventing the future development of drug resistance.
The most common classes of HIV medications on the market right now include the following:
Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs): these medications eliminate a protein that HIV needs to replicate
Nucleoside or nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs): in this case, the drugs provide “faulty” versions of the substances that HIV needs to replicate
Protease inhibitors: while the explanation is difficult, these medications also prevent the virus from making additional copies of itself and attacking cells
Integrase inhibitors: they disable a protein called integrase that HIV needs to inject its genetic material in cells
Entry or fusion inhibitors: these medications block the overall HIV entry into the CD4 T cells of the immune system
Medications will be prescribed on an individual basis and they should be taken following a strict schedule. When the treatment is started early enough, it’s possible for a person to eventually have the viral load undetectable in their blood.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (HIV PrEP) is a combination of anti-HIV drugs that can reduce the risk of an infection in the event of viral exposure. HIV PrEP is taken before an eventual exposure occurs and it’s recommended mainly to individuals belonging to high risk groups. When taken correctly each day, these medications can reduce the risk of becoming infected by 99 per cent.
Post-exposure prophylaxis or HIV PEP is taken after suspected exposure and it can once again reduce the risk of becoming HIV positive. Again, it’s essential to take the medication as prescribed and as early after the exposure as possible.
PEP is usually administered in a 28-day course and studies show that it’s 90+ per cent effective in preventing the infection.
Shim Clinic can consult you on the possible treatments and supportive therapies. Do not hesitate to visit us and learn more.
Prevention and Best Sexual Health Practices
HIV prevention is everyone’s personal responsibility. Needless to say, you can do numerous things to stay healthy, protect yourself and your partner(s).
The most common and effective HIV prevention recommendations include the following:
- Abstain from sexual activity
- If you have sex, especially if you engage in casual sexual encounters, use condoms every single time
- Limit your number of sexual partners
- Consider HIV PrEP if you belong to a high risk group. For those who may have experienced exposure, HIV PEP would be a suitable choice
- If you already have HIV, take medications to keep your viral load undetectable. In such instances, you cannot pass the virus to your sexual partner
- If you are HIV-positive, always tell a current or former sexual partners about your status. All these individuals will also need to get tested
- Get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections regularly
All of these steps help save lives and they contribute to the better management of HIV. The world is moving closer and closer to the development of a vaccine or even a cure for the condition. Until this happens, however, you will need to do the responsible thing, even when emotions take over.
When in doubt, always get in touch with professionals. At Shim Clinic, we can offer guidance, emotional support, accurate testing and consultancy services. Timely detection and the assistance of a highly experienced team of doctors will set you on the right path. Let us know how we can be of assistance right now!