So, we discovered a couple of issues back that Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, and the like are hilarious little STI’s – especially if you generally enjoy burning sensations when you pee and open, oozing sores all over your most delicate of anatomical regions. Oh wait, that’s not hilarious at all and it’s decidedly disturbing if you enjoy such symptoms. Seriously.
What is even less hilarious, however, are two related big name viruses not touched upon last time: the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and its offspring, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV and AIDS are serious acronyms, people. No joking matter.
HIV is a nasty virus that executes a full-on assault on some key cells that are meant to keep you healthy and fend off other viruses and diseases – namely your helper T cells (a type of white blood cell), macrophages (another type of white blood cell) and dendritic cells (a key cell in your immune system). But how does the HIV gain access to these cells, you ask? Blood, semen, pre-cum, vaginal fluid and breast milk. Of course, the bump and grind is one way to swap said fluids with an infected partner, but sharing needles and consuming breast milk will get the job done too. Mothers can also pass along the virus to their foetus, and to their baby during childbirth or when nursing.
When HIV has attacked enough cells, encouraging them to regenerate the virus within the body, an infected person can no longer fight off infections that an otherwise healthy person would generally have no problem combating. This is when HIV becomes AIDS, typically 5–15 years after the virus is contracted. Since antiretroviral drugs have been developed to stave off the serious infections that lead to full on AIDS, infected people can remain in the HIV stages for longer periods of time. Once AIDS takes over, however, the immune system deteriorates to the point of not being able to fight off any virus, causing tumours, rampant infection and leading to death.
And this shit’s in Iceland? Yes. At the start of 2009, there were 218 diagnosed cases of HIV in Iceland – 162 men and 56 women. Of these, 60 have been diagnosed with AIDS, 37 of whom have died from the disease.
Don’t be a fool, wrap your tool!
This is serious, people. Sex is awesome, I know, but it’s even better when you’re not wondering what nasty viruses you’re picking up. Use condoms and get tested. As always, the Dermatology and Venerology Outpatient Ward has got your back and will happily take some of your blood and give you some peace of mind in return. Why not call them at 543-6050? If you’re out of credit on your phone, just stop by Þverholt 18. You’ll be happy you did!
[The print version of this article contains an erroneous statement pertaining to the quality of care available for HIV/AIDS patients in Iceland. The author and the Grapevine extend sincere apologies to any parties that may have been offended by said statement. Look for more HIV/AIDS coverage in the fall.]
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