IS AIDS REALLY IN SIERRA LEONE?

AIDS is in Sierra Leone. It is estimated that over 50,000 Sierra Leoneans have the AIDS virus (HIV). Most of them do not know that they are infected and therefore may be infecting other people without knowing. Many more Sierra Leoneans have died or are sick with AIDS—related illnesses.

What are the main ways people in Sierra Leone can get infected with the AIDS
virus?

Unprotected sex is the most common way people get infected with the AIDS virus (HIV) in
Sierra Leone. The more sexual partners a person has protected sex with, the more chances of getting infected with HIV.

Other ways of becoming infected with HIV include:

R
eceiving infected blood through blood transfusion.
Through blood and blood letting instruments.
Exchanging skin piercing, tattooing or cutting instruments such as needles, razor blades, knives etc, with people who are infected with HIV.
Giving birth by an HIV infected mother, who can pass the virus to her child during pregnancy, birth or through breastfeeding. This is all because the virus is always found in the body fluids of the infected person. 

 How is HIV not spread?

HIV ( the AIDS virus) CAN NOT be spread by casual contact. No one can get the virus doing the following with an infected person:

Touching, hugging, shaking hands, playing etc.
Eating together or sharing cooking utensils
Working or sitting together ( in schools, workplace, cinema etc).
Staying with an infected person
When a mosquito bites an infected person and then bites you.

What care and support is needed for PLWHAs?

People who live with HIV or AIDS need your care, protection and love as much as you would if you were sick. Do not shun or avoid them. Discriminating them will make them conceal their status and continue to infect others. Discriminating against PLWAs can also lead them to avoid taking their medication and lead to early death.

Encourage them to:-
Eat nutritious food
Do regular exercise
Practice good hygiene
Take plenty of rest.
Avoid smoking of tobacco and
drinking of alcohol
Get medical help whenever they feel unwell
Participate in community activities.
How would I know if I have the AIDS virus (HIV)

You will only know by doing the HIV test. Many people who are infected with HIV look and feel healthy for years before becoming sick and dying from AIDS related illnesses.

What do I do if I am at risk of being infected with HIV?

If you feel that you are at risk, it will be good to seek voluntary counseling and testing (VCCT) services. This will give you the chance to discuss and know more about HIV and AIDS. Knowing if you have or do not have HIV virus will help to protect you and your loved ones.

How can I protect myself from getting the AIDS virus (HIV)?

You can protect yourself if you know and practice the ABCD of AIDS prevention.

These are:

Abstain from sex or
Be faithful to an uninfected partner who is faithful to you or
Condom use. Use condom properly every time you have sex.
Do not share with other people instruments that are used to pierce your skin such as razor, needle and syringes for
injections.

Always use sterilizes and clean instruments for skin piercing.
Do not accept blood for transfusion that has not been tested for HIV and
Get immediate treatment for any sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea, syphilis and others and tell your partner to do the same.

Where do I get further information about
HIV and AIDS, voluntary counseling
and testing and condoms?

You can get information about HIV and AIDS Unit,
Connaught hospital, Freetown; any Government hospital, Health Centre or any HIV and AIDS Prevention & Control Organization in your area. You can also buy condoms from any pharmacy or drug store near you.

AIDS SELF—RISK QUIZ:
Am I at risk of getting AIDS?

Have you ever had sex without a condom?
Do you frequently have sex without a condom?
Have you ever had more than one sexual partner?
Have you ever had many different sexual partners?
Have you ever had a sexually transmitted disease
(such as gonorrhea, syphilis, or other)?
Have you ever received an injection when you
Were not sure if the needle and syringe
used were
sterile?
Have you ever shared razor blades or skin piercing
instruments with another person?
Have you ever had a blood transfusion ?
Are you not sure where you can be voluntarily
tested and counseled for HIV?

If you answered “Yes” to any of questions 1—10
it does not mean you are infected with the AIDS
Virus (HIV). It means that you have been exposed
to the virus. The more “Yes” answers you give,
the higher your risk of having the AIDS virus (HIV).
So get tested for HIV now to help you live a
healthy life.

HIV: HUMAN IMMUNO DIFFICIENCY
VIRUS

AIDS: ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY
SYNDROME

For further information, contact:

NAS Tel: 242208
MOHS Tel: 225174
UNICEF Tel: 235732
Or any organization providing HIV / AIDS
Prevention services in your area.