Say No to AIDS

One risk associated with HIV is that the body is at a higher risk of developing other infections. If you remain on medication and work to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can live a normal life with HIV. However, for some people who are unmedicated or experiencing treatment failure, the immune system may become weak and leave PLHIV at risk of developing other infections.

Uncontrolled HIV weakens the body’s ability to fight off diseases. Opportunistic Infections are illnesses that occur more frequently or more severely in people with late-stage HIV.


What Are Opportunistic Infections (OIs)?

These are infections that are more likely to affect people whose immune systems have been compromised. In PLHIV, these infections can happen more frequently or they can be more severe - especially when someone is not on Antiretroviral Therapy. They can affect many parts of the body such as the digestive tract, skin, lungs and brain. In some cases, symptoms of OIs can be confused with side effects of ART.

Why Should We Pay Close Attention To This?

We should take heed of OIs because:

  • They may be the first indicator of HIV infection for many people.
  • They can cause illness or death in PLHIV

How Do We Prevent And Treat OIs?

The best prevention for opportunistic infections is to keep the immune system strong by taking ARV medications every day, in the right way, at the right time. For some PLHIV, a doctor will prescribe an additional preventive antibiotic to prevent the development of OIs. (This is known as OI prophylaxis, and usually involves taking the antibiotic cotrimoxazole.)

Please remember not to self-diagnose with any of these, as the resulting stress can hinder your journey to being a healthier U. If you are concerned about having any of these infections, speak to your doctor about any symptoms you may be experiencing.

If you are experiencing symptoms, or wish to speak with someone on the National HIV Helpline call 800-4HIV or 800-4448. (This is a toll-free number)

You are not alone. #youarenotalonett

For more information on some of the Opportunistic Infections that PLHIV may be affected by, please check the following links:

CDC. AIDS and Opportunistic Infections

Office of AIDS Research, National Institute of Health. What is an Opportunistic Infection?

Please remember that not all PLHIV are affected by Opportunistic Infections. It is important that you continue to take your medication as advised by your doctor in order to reduce the likelihood of an infection.