December 2019 | AIDS - HIV

What is it?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus, that develops into AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Usually undetected, the virus spreads throughout the body and destroys the entire immune system. Left untreated it takes on average eight years until AIDS develops, and from there only a few weeks or months until death. The average time period living with the virus, however, varies greatly, ranging from a few years to 20 years. After becoming infected with HIV, flu-like symptoms appear within two to three weeks. The body spends the next 3 to 5 years fighting the virus and keeping it pretty well in check. There are no more symptoms. The end is always the same: The body loses its fight to the virus. The term AIDS is used when certain serious illnesses appear, like certain types of cancer and pneumonia, infectious organ diseases, serious viral illnesses, damage to the central nervous system. No one can live long with AIDS.

Who has it?

Worldwide approximately 39 million people, with 2 million new cases per year. In Germany, there were around 86,100 reported cases in 2017 and 2,700 new infections.

What to do?

One can take PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), a medication that prevents people from becoming infected with HIV. It costs around 40 € per month and whoever takes it must undergo regular testing for HIV, other STDs and have their kidney function checked.

In the meantime, HIV – at least in Germany – is no longer a death sentence. There are drugs that prevent the virus from spreading in the body so that people with HIV can live longer without getting AIDS. That’s the good news. The bad news: HIV is still incurable.

What else do I not want to know?

Sure, when taken correctly, PrEP is over 90 percent effective. But that applies only to HIV. Unfortunately, that’s the reason other STDs are once again on the rise. Which is why: Even with PrEP, only sex with a condom, please!